U.S. DOT-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration logo
400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

June 6, 2003

Dear Colleague:

As an emergency physician, I have seen first-hand the effect that many medical conditions can have on cognitive and motor function, both essential to driving ability. I have also seen the traumatic consequences of those medical conditions going unattended. As the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), I have come to understand that there is much the medical and health care community must do to address the issue of safe mobility for older patients.

NHTSA is proud of its partnership with the American Medical Association and the other health care organizations whose representatives participated in the development of the Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers. This groundbreaking publication will give physicians in this country a reference that addresses their questions and concerns about medical conditions and their potential effect on driving, based on the strongest scientific evidence available. They will have at their fingertips guidance on how to use the history and physical examination to identify health problems that are likely to cause driving hazards. Perhaps most importantly, physicians will find in this publication many proactive ideas for helping older drivers stay on the road safely, as well as approaches for dealing with medical/driving problems.

The Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers holds great promise, in providing physicians and many other health care professionals with the tools they need to address the issue of safe mobility in the older patient population. While the Physician’s Guide focuses on older drivers, age alone should not be the sole criterion for determining whether someone is a safe driver. Each patient’s ability should be assessed individually, irrespective of age.

My challenge to you, the health care community, is to make assessing and counseling patients about their fitness to drive part of your practice in the care of all older Americans. As we move forward into the 21st century and our population advances in age, we must continue to meet and anticipate our patients’ evolving needs. Ultimately, by ensuring the safe mobility of older patients, we can enhance the safe passage of all Americans on our roadways.

I extend my appreciation to the members of the Older Drivers Project for the long hours of hard work they dedicated to this effort. The results speak for themselves: a publication that each member can be proud to have crafted. Finally, I want to acknowledge the American Medical Association for its leadership and for its support in producing the Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers.

Sincerely yours,

Jeffrey Runge, M.D. signature

Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.

NHTSA People Saving People logo

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