The National Office for Traffic Medicine (NOTM) is to focus on issues around alcohol and substance use disorders in the coming years.
Last month, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the NOTM launched new medical fitness to drive guidelines. The guidelines included an increase in the age of routine medical certification of drivers from 70 to 75.
The NOTM Programme Director Prof Des O’Neill described the increase as “welcome”. He said the focus of the NOTM’s work would now be on alcohol.
“Our target over the next few years is for people to think more strongly about alcohol use and alcohol use disorders,” he told the Medical Independent.
Prof O’Neill believes people have a “blind spot” about alcohol use disorders.
“They tend to… almost not see it as a medical condition where people can be diagnosed and treated and supported,” he said. “That’s going to be our big focus in the next few years.”
“People seem to get very concerned about older people and Alzheimer’s [regarding driving]. In fact their real concerns should be alcohol and substance use disorders and that will be our focus in the next few years.”
He predicted that this focus and research route “will be an interesting journey”.
“I think we will have to do a bit of work around how we resource that and how we make clear the pathways for [alcohol disorder] treatment… and then fit that into the framework for medical fitness to drive as well.”
The RSA and NOTM have also published a leaflet on the new guidelines. The leaflet is available on the National Driver Licence Service website and is described as “useful to GPs, occupational and public health professionals, and the general public”.