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Driving a car is a privilege not a right. Sometimes it becomes necessary to surrender your licence or perhaps just suspend your right until you are absolutely alight to drive again.
On 28 February 2004, 22-month-old Jet Rowland was killed when a driver with unstable epilepsy travelling in the opposite direction suffered a seizure, crossed the median strip on the Logan Motorway, south of Brisbane, and collided with the car Jet was travelling in with his mother Anita and his brother Bailey, 7. Anita Rowland, a police officer with the Queensland Police Service, sustained life-threatening injuries after the 200 km per hour impact. Bailey’s spinal cord was severed, rendering him a paraplegic while Jet died at Brisbane’s Mater Children’s Hospital on the night of 28 February from massive internal injuries after life support had to be withdrawn.
The case highlighted and demonstrated the importance of managing any potentially unstable medical condition and the Coroner’s Inquest, held on 25–26 August 2005, revealed that the driver who collided with the Rowland’s vehicle had been experiencing ‘frequent seizures’ and therefore should not have been driving. ‘The most telling question and answer in the inquest was when the driver was asked; ‘You would not want to be driving while you had a simple partial seizure at one hundred kilometres per hour, would you?’ The driver responded ‘No’. Thus it is now the reason that medical condition reporting legislation was introduced after his tragic death, now known as ‘Jet’s Law’.
Driving a motor vehicle is an essential part of most our our lives. However, the privilege of driving also comes with some responsibilities. Driving can be a complex task that requires perception, good judgement, adequate responses and a reasonable physical capability (sight and sound). So for the safety of others and yourself, you must only drive when you are medically fit to do so.
A range of medical conditions (mental and/or physical) may adversely affect your ability to drive in a safe manner and could result in a crash causing death or injury.
What medical conditions will affect my driving?
You should discuss this matter with your doctor if your have any of the following:
- blackouts or fainting
- diabetes (early or late onset)
- eye problems like cataracts
- hearing problems
- heart disease
- psychiatric disorders
- sleep disorders
- alcohol or drug dependency
It is a serious matter and hefty penalties or imprisonment could apply if not adhered to. Sometimes these conditions are only temporary or after appropriate treatment, they may heal and you could continue to drive, with your doctor’s approval. If you know somebody that is in a danger zone to be continuing to drive yet they don’t wish to surrender their right, you are able to write to Transport Department with supporting evidence to substantiate your claims.