Ethics of Clinical Decision-Making for Older Drivers: Reporting Health-Related Driving Risk

Can J Aging. 2016 Jun;35 Suppl 1:69-80. doi: 10.1017/S0714980816000088. Epub 2016 Apr 27.


The number of older drivers will continue to increase as the population ages. Health care professionals have the responsibility of providing care and maintaining confidentiality for their patients while ensuring public safety. This article discusses the ethics of clinical decision-making pertaining to reporting health-related driving risk of older drivers to licensing authorities. Ethical considerations inherent in reporting driving risk, including autonomy, confidentiality, therapeutic relationships, and the uncertainty about determining individual driving safety and risk, are discussed. We also address the moral agency of reporting health-related driving risk and raise the question of whose responsibility it is to report. Issues of uncertainty surrounding clinical reasoning and concepts related to risk assessment are also discussed. Finally, we present two case studies to illustrate some of the issues and challenges faced by health care professionals as they seek to balance their responsibilities for their patients while ensuring road safety for all citizens.

Keywords: aging; assessment; clinical ethics; conduite automobile; driving; vieillissement; éthique clinique; évaluation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Automobile Driving / standards*
  • Canada
  • Clinical Decision-Making / ethics*
  • Confidentiality / ethics
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Risk Assessment / methods