Assessing Fitness to Drive 2021 guideline review

In 2021, we reviewed the medical standards within Assessing Fitness to Drive (AFTD). The review examined advances in medical knowledge related to safe driving, and changes were made within AFTD to reflect these advancements.

This project resulted in a new version of AFTD - which came into effect on 22 June, 2022. Access the new version on the Austroads website.

AustRoads is responsible for implementing AFTD, to find out more on implementation visit their website.

What happened during the project

We received valuable input and advice from stakeholder across Australia, including: 

  • driver licensing authorities
  • industry
  • patient representative groups
  • medical associations. 

All feedback received was considered in developing the latest version of AFTD. Public consultation held during the project uncovered insights on:

  • the suitability of the changes in the updated draft guidelines 
  • people’s experience with the previous version of the AFTD guidelines 
  • any suggestions to make the new version more user-friendly 
  • any suggestions on education or support needed to increase use and knowledge of the guidelines.

What changed

The review resulted in improved guidance regarding the principles of assessing fitness to drive contained in Part A of AFTD. Changes were made to clarify assessment of: 

  • older drivers
  • drivers with multiple medical conditions
  • drivers with disabilities. 

Changes to fitness to drive criteria have been made to several conditions, including: 

  • cardiovascular conditions
  • musculoskeletal conditions
  • neurological conditions including dementia and cognitive impairment, seizures and epilepsy, and others  
  • substance misuse 
  • vision and eye disorders.

The latest edition of AFTD also includes extensive guidance on medicinal marijuana (cannabis). This is in response to cannabis being prescribed more often to treat conditions in Australia. 

A detailed overview of the differences between the 2016 and 2022 editions can be found on the Austroads website. 

Out of scope issues

There were two out of scope issues we heard through engagement that will be addressed through other NTC projects.

Request to provide guidance on mandatory screening for heavy vehicle drivers 

In March 2022, infrastructure and transport ministers directed the NTC to investigate options to improve the diagnosis of sleep apnea, diabetes and cardiac risk levels in heavy vehicle drivers. Findings of this work may be incorporated into Assessing Fitness to Drive in the future. 

Request to include guidance on “fitness for duty” for heavy vehicle drivers 

The NTC is considering the definition of “fitness for duty” through their work on the Heavy Vehicle National Law Safety and Productivity Program. 

To ask a question about either of these projects, or provide input for consideration, please email us.

Austroads involvement

The NTC partners with Austroads to manage AFTD. We are responsible for developing the content of the guidelines. Austroads is responsible for publishing the guidelines and working with organisations who use them.

Further information

For questions about how to use the guidelines, contact Austroads.

For questions about how AFTD impacts decisions about your driver license, contact the driver licensing authority in you state or territory. Contact details can be found in Appendix 9 of the current AFTD

If you have a suggestion about something we should consider in the next AFTD review, email us.