Obligation to report if you are unfit to drive? Associations are against it



AAutomobile associations have spoken out against the obligation for doctors to report persons who are unfit to drive. In exceptional cases, there are already opportunities for doctors to pass on information to the driving license authorities, for example Automobile Club of Germany (AVD) before the traffic court day, where the topic is discussed. The AVD emphasized that it was a sensitive topic “which is becoming more relevant in an aging society”.

The automobile club is therefore against a change in the previous legal practice. However, he advocated the promotion of regular voluntary vision and reaction tests or car safety training. However, the AVD announced that their results would have to remain confidential.

In any case, doctors already have the opportunity to report people who are unfit to drive to the authorities if they determine that there is “imminent danger”. The AVD refers to a judgment of the Federal Court of Justice from 1968. According to this, doctors are allowed to break confidentiality in exceptional cases. To do this, they must first inform the patient about their illness and the associated dangers of driving.

Doctor-patient relationship at risk?

Studies have also shown that many older drivers are able to compensate for performance losses that occur, for example by driving more carefully or by not driving in the dark or in bad weather. “It is therefore not surprising that, according to the statistics, seniors are disproportionately involved in traffic accidents,” it said.

Experts will speak on the subject from January 25th to 27th at the Traffic Court Day in Goslar. It is one of the most important meetings of traffic safety and traffic law experts in Germany. A particular focus of this year’s traffic court day is the liability of AI-controlled cars and alcohol limits for e-scooters. The Congress traditionally ends with recommendations to the legislature.

The General German Automobile Club (ADAC) fears that an obligation to report would severely jeopardize the relationship of trust between doctor and patient and, in case of doubt, lead to “the latter not openly describing an impairment requiring treatment for fear of losing their driver’s license”. In addition, the ADAC points out that not every finding is clear with regard to driving suitability. He therefore advocates the creation of a place for traffic medicine issues where patients can get a second opinion.

At the doctor’s discretion

The Automobile Club also rejects the linking of the driver’s license to regular examinations. “What should be checked? Hearing and vision tests would not be enough,” said the head of the legal center at ADAC, Markus Schäpe. Further properties such as the ability to concentrate or the speed of reaction would have to be examined in a complex manner. In addition, in Italy, for example, where there is such a system, seniors are no less involved in accidents than in Germany.

The Munich lawyer Michael Piesskalla, who will speak on the subject in Goslar, says it is difficult to assess when a reporting obligation should apply. “Ultimately, in my opinion, it cannot be left to the doctor’s discretion as to which clinical pictures he reports,” he said.

Accident researcher Siegfried Brockmann from the General Association of the German Insurance Industry spoke out in favor of a counseling center that would help doctors in specific cases. Such a position could be located at medical associations.



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