Clarifications Concerning Neurocognitive Disorder Diagnoses and Driving
(Here is a letter from the Chair of Réseau FADOQ Gisèle Tassé-Goodman)
In a letter sent to many health professionals on November 4, 2022, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) clarified the administration of files for individuals who have been diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder. Following the expression of various concerns, we want to take this opportunity to explain the scope of the modifications.
The SAAQ adjusted the processing of files for individuals diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder. That said, such a diagnosis does not automatically result in the suspension of a person’s driver’s license. To promote the safety of the affected individual and other road users, the driver’s licence will be suspended in some cases, based on a physician’s recommendation, until an SAAQ evaluator assesses the client’s on-road driving skills or an occupational therapist conducts a functional evaluation.
This measure does not affect drivers who have been diagnosed with a mild neurocognitive disorder, whose condition does not pose a risk to road safety. There are several thousand people with a diagnosis of mild neurocognitive disorder who still have a driver’s licence. The SAAQ monitors their health status annually through medical reports by health professionals.
The development of a neurocognitive disorder can have a significant impact on many aspects of life, including the safe operation of an automobile. Keep in mind that it is the functional limitations resulting from a medical condition, regardless of age, which are important in determining driving ability.
The SAAQ and Réseau FADOQ recognize the importance of driving as a factor in the quality of life and autonomy of Quebecers, particularly for older people. Working closely together, health professionals and the SAAQ support affected individuals through the steps required to complete the additional examinations requested or, in some cases, through the process of withdrawing driving privileges due to their health condition.