The second critical area that NHTSA will focus on is licensing. In addition to being of interest to licensing administrators, this area will be valuable to medical providers, social services providers, older drivers and caregivers, and transit providers.

NHTSA has been working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), following its efforts to address medical standards for commercial drivers through the Medical Advisory Board and Certified Medical Examiners programs. Both of these FMCSA activities for commercial drivers will provide guidance to NHTSA on medical standards of practice for the general driving population.

NHTSA has a cooperative agreement with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) to identify a clear scientific basis for licensing standards. The research panel under that agreement, paired with new information coming from FMCSA, will create guidance that States can use to improve the scientific basis of their licensing programs.

  1. Determine the Safety Outcomes of Licensing Procedures

    Comparing the practices of about 10 States, researchers will evaluate the impact of DMV licensing practices and policies on older driver safety. Driver license renewal policies vary from State to State with regard to requirements for people over a certain age. These policies are made on a non-scientific basis, rather than on the basis of any research evidence. This project will examine a sample of State policies and data related to crash involvement, fatal crashes, and if available, exposure measures to determine whether these policies make a difference in older driver safety. The outcomes and consequences of Medical Review Board decisions will also be examined to determine what safety benefits can be identified.

  2. Promote and Coordinate Medical Review Guidelines With State Licensing Agencies (DMVs)

    Building on the AAMVA medical review guidelines that are being developed under an FY 04 cooperative agreement (three-year project), NHTSA will encourage the adoption of appropriate licensing control of medically impaired drivers in States. NHTSA and AAMVA are attempting to identify safe performance levels of functional ability in vision, cognition, and physical function with the assumption that there are levels of functional ability under which an individual’s driving should be restricted and levels under which no driving should be allowed. At the conclusion of the ongoing project, AAMVA will provide recommended levels of function for safe driving. NHTSA will promote these recommendations to State licensing authorities.

  3. Develop and Implement Licensing Referral Programs

    By working with partner organizations that reach caregivers, NHTSA will encourage reporting and promote referrals to licensing authorities by families and caregivers who suspect that a family member is unsafe to drive. The education component will help people deal with predictable responses, such as anger and sadness, to suggestions that a driver is unsafe and should make changes to his or her driving habits. This project will provide instruction to caregivers on how to identify the licensing authorities in each State, how to find help on older driver safety, and how to deal with older drivers’ reactions to a recommendation of driving restriction. Through a series of demonstration projects, licensing authorities will provide law enforcement, medical providers, and other community partners with useful information and guidance on making referrals. Evaluation of the demonstrations will guide NHTSA’s development of a national program.