By Jennifer O’Neill – Occupational Therapist
The recent media spotlight on autism and driving has raised important questions about the guidelines and considerations for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who wish to operate vehicles. While this article should not be taken as legal advice, we hope that the information provided here can guide you in determining how best to understand and respond to your personal situation.
Understanding the Document “Assessing Fitness to Drive”
The national driver medical standards, titled “Assessing Fitness to Drive,” serve as the cornerstone for evaluating the medical criteria for safe driving. These guidelines assist in informing health professionals and licensing authorities about managing medical conditions and driving. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that individuals with health conditions can continue to drive as long as it remains safe for them and others on the road.
It is important to note these are guidelines are not legally binding. Each state and territory in Australia has its own set of laws and regulations governing medical licensing for drivers.
Key Points of the Guidelines for Autistic Drivers
Section 6.3 Other neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions of the standard states;
The impact of other neurological conditions including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental and intellectual disability should be assessed individually.
A practical driver assessment may be required. If the degree of impairment is static, periodic review is not usually required.
There is considerable difference in the range and severity of ASD symptoms, so assessment should focus on these and the significance of likely functional effects, rather than an ASD diagnosis.
Implications for Drivers in Queensland
In Queensland, Jet’s Law governs the eligibility for driver’s licenses and the reporting of specific medical conditions. Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) oversees the implementation of these regulations.
Mandatory Reporting of Medical Conditions
Individuals in Queensland are legally obligated to notify TMR of any medical condition that could adversely affect their driving ability. This includes anyone applying for or holding a Queensland driver’s license, as well as interstate and overseas license holders who intend to drive in Queensland.
Assessing Medical Fitness to Drive
If you develop a permanent or long-term medical condition, or if an existing condition worsens, potentially affecting your driving safety, you must undergo a medical fitness assessment. This assessment will determine whether your condition poses any risks to your driving ability and, if so, what measures can be taken to mitigate those risks.
Seeking Guidance from Your GP
If you have any concerns about whether your ASD may impact your driving safety, consulting with your GP is crucial. They can provide personalized advice, conduct a thorough assessment,
and recommend appropriate next steps.
Obtaining Documentation for Peace of Mind
If you are confident in your ability to drive safely despite your ASD but seek peace of mind, you can request a “medical certificate for motor vehicle driver” (Form F3712) from your GP. This documentation can be lodged with TMR and kept on your license record for further assurance.
Additional Resources and Support
The QLD GOVT Transport and Main Roads Medical Condition Reporting Unit offers comprehensive guidance on licensing requirements and considerations for Autistic drivers. You can reach them at 1300 753 627.
For further information on medical condition reporting in Queensland, visit the QLD Government Website:
Remember, this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with a qualified legal professional if you have any specific questions about your driving rights and obligations.