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Papers of the Week

2019 Oct




[Vertigo, a Driver’s Licence with and without Permission to Drive: Are the Current Guidelines Justified?]



This article critically discusses the current assessment guidelines valid since 2014 which must be applied to determine the driving aptitude of patients with dizziness and balance disorders (in the official document called "disorders of the sense of balance"). With all due respect for the meticulous work of the expert commission who established the guidelines – the likes of which are not known anywhere else – we consider their revision imperative. On the basis of our many years of experience in the German Center for Dizziness and Balance Disorders of the LMU Munich it is our opinion that these restrictions are too strict and the required dizziness-free intervals are too long.The guidelines now stipulate the following for drivers with a group 1 driving licence ("private"):1) Patients with Meniere's disease (attacks without prodromes) must have had no attacks for 2 years before it is possible to drive a car again.2) Patients with vestibular migraine without prodromes must not have had any attacks for 3 years.The following stipulations hold for drivers with a group 1 and group 2 driving licence ("professional driver"):3) Patients with bilateral vestibulopathy as a rule are considered to have a driving disability, likewise4) Patients with central vestibular forms of vertigo, e. g., oculomotor disorders like downbeat and upbeat nystagmus syndromes are also as a rule regarded as having a driving disability.5) Patients with functional (psychogenic) forms of dizziness (e. g., phobic postural vertigo) who have a group 1 driving licence are considered to have a driving disability if dizziness occurs while driving. Those with a group 2 driving licence are in general considered to have a driving disability. However, many patients with episodic or chronic dizziness have such minor symptoms that their driving fitness is not relevantly impaired or if they do have an attack, they are able to stop driving in a controlled manner. In contrast, the restrictions on other illnesses that are accompanied by attack-like disorders of cognition and consciousness like the epilepsies are less strict. Depending on the type of attack or its trigger, the attack-free interval for such patients with a group 1 driving licence amounts to 3 months up to 1 year, although they clearly are not fit to drive during an attack.