PSYCHIATRIC STANDARDS IN DRIVER LICENSING

At the present time, many states have a Board of Health or some other agency for reviewing driver-licensing practices and making recommendations regarding safe-driving ability, but psychiatric standards are, for the most part, undocumented. Violent, aggressive, impulsive, and depressed behavior is almost impossible to predict. Many states have published lists of medical and psychiatric conditions that are used and are supposed to guide authorities in making decisions regarding the licensing of drivers. For example, the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles Medical Advisory Board Report lists and describes three major classifications of mental illnesses that could affect drivers' ability: (1) schizophreniz: simple, hebephrenic, paranoid, and catatonic; (2) affective or manic- depressive disorders; and (3) psychoneuroses. The Federal Aviation Administration lists the following neurologic and psychiatric conditions for which certificate denial is mandatory: (1) a character or behavior disorder severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts, (2) a psychotic disorder, (3) chronic alcoholism, (4) drug addiction, (5) epilepsy, and (6) disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of the cause. In general, these and other lists focus on disease labels or nosologic entities rather than function. This is less than useful and is unfair, as, for example, one may be schizophrenic and suffer no driving disability. Stress creates temporary emotional upsets, impairing driving ability in normal persons. Three behavior patterns may occur: (1) indifference and inattention because of absorption in problems; (2) despondency, depression, and psychomotor retardation, which slows the reflexes; and (3) antagonism and impulsiveness or open aggressiveness with loss of judgment caution. Persons having IQs below 70 may be unable to perform the decisive actions and accurate judgments needed in emergency situations if crashes are to be avoided.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    American Public Health Association

    1740 Broadway
    New York, NY  USA  10019
  • Authors:
    • Shlensky, R
  • Publication Date: 1976-5-3

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00144392
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Highway Safety Research Institute
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 31 2003 12:00AM