Dubai, UAE: An upcoming Federal Traffic Council (FTC) meeting will examine the possibilities of stipulating a policy that will make it mandatory for all seeking a driver’s licence to declare their medical conditions, if any, to the authorities.
Major-General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Head of the Federal Traffic Council and Assistant to the Dubai Police Chief for Operations Affairs, told Gulf News that the meeting will look at a recommendation wherein every person seeking a driver’s licence will have to sign an undertaking that he/she is free of any condition which may cause him/her to lose control of the vehicle.
His comments came two days after a driver of a four-wheel drive crashed into a fast-food restaurant in Ajman during an epileptic seizure killing two persons and injuring five others.
Major-General Al Zafein also said if a person suffers from any medical condition, including a deformity, that may occur after having obtained a driver’s licence and which can possibly limit his/her control over the vehicle, the person is obligated to inform the licensing authorities.
A senior official at the Ministry of Interior told Gulf News on Tuesday that currently, driving licence applicants in the country are not separately tested for their mental and physical fitness because the diligent preparation for theory test on traffic rules and the rigorous training to pass the practical driving test act as determinants of their mental and physical condition. Those who are not mentally and physically fit cannot pass these tests, he said.
At the moment, the only medical- or health-related tests applicants have to undergo is the eye test. Special needs individuals have to submit a medical certificate to get the privileged licence for that category.
“I am not aware of any deliberations in the ministry to change the present system,” the official added.
Major-General Al Zafein said that with such a policy in place, people will not be able to withhold this sort of information because if they do, they will be held accountable in case they cause an accident.
“We are looking at a recommendation wherein every person applying for their driver’s licence will have to sign an undertaking. If they develop any severe problems later, they need to take the initiative to notify the driving authorities of it. The authorities can then study the medical case and present it to a doctor to decide whether the person is medically fit to drive or not,” he said.
Individuals who suffer from epilepsy or diabetes especially. he said, need to inform the authorities for the sake of their own safety and of others.
“The percentages of people with epilepsy is low, but many people are diabetic, but doesn’t mean they all cannot be allowed to drive,” he said.
“People who already hold a driver’s licence, if they develop any severe health conditions, need to think about their situation [and determine if they are fit to drive].”
People medically unfit to drive are as much a danger on the road as are drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
On the issue of a current absence of rules regarding medical conditions and obtaining a driving licence, he said, “Less than one per cent of accidents are triggered by the drivers’ medical condition. Most fatal and deadly accidents are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.”
In 2014, one person was killed in an accident caused by a driver who lost control of his vehicle following a cardiac arrest.
The Roads and Transport Authority has, since 2013, implemented a programme that requires all professional drivers — bus, truck, and taxi drivers and chauffeurs — to pass a mandatory health test, which declares them free from diseases and medically fit to work as drivers.
Major-General Al Zafein believes the Dubai’s professional driver’s permit should be extended to the federal level.
“The reason for implementing this system is because they see that drivers spend a lot of time on the road, almost 12 hours. Every step taken to make our roads safer is something we always support.”
© Gulf NewsJul 2016