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Ontario Car Accidents – Driving With Serious Medical Conditions

When people talk about impaired driving, most of us only think about drunk driving.  However, that is not the only type of impaired driving that can lead to serious car or truck accidents in Ontario.  When driving with uncontrolled, serious medical conditions, drivers can cause serious, if not fatal car accidents.  Drivers with uncontrolled medical conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy pose a serious threat to other drivers on the roadways.

Just last month, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin said it’s “high time” the province started educating drivers about the dangers of driving with serious medical conditions. *Source: www.thestar.com (Driving with uncontrolled diabetes ‘a serious threat,’ Ontario ombudsman warns)

Marin was investigating the implications of drivers ignoring their health conditions after a fatal car crash back in 2009, and he presented a report containing recommendations to improve the system of reporting serious medical conditions in order to prevent such accidents.

In June 2009, a diabetic man, who had dangerously low blood sugar, decided to get behind the wheel.  The man was driving his SUV when he swerved into a bike lane, killing an 81 year old cyclist.  The man then struck a small Honda, and the newlywed couple in the car was killed when their car crashed with the SUV.

According to the most recent Transportation Ministry statistics from 2010, there are more than 7,300 drivers in Ontario who are insulin dependent, and 25% of them will suffer from hypoglycemic episodes at some point in time.

Marin’s investigation also revealed many errors in Ontario’s system for reporting and monitoring drivers with potentially dangerous medical conditions. For example, doctors are not reporting patients to the Transportation Ministry if they have medical conditions that may make driving unsafe.  Even when forms are received by the Transportation Ministry, the Ministry doesn’t act on them.

An individual driving with uncontrolled diabetes “is as serious as impaired driving. There is no doubt about it. People pass out at the wheel . . . turning their car into an unguided missile,” said Marin.

Marin made several recommendations including revising old reporting forms and improving internal training, and Transportation Minister Glen Murray stated that many of Marin’s recommendations are being reviewed and implemented.

The hope is to educate the public and decrease car accidents in Ontario by increasing awareness about the danger of driving with uncontrolled medical conditions, i.e., impaired driving.

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