As National Road Safety Week launches across Australia this week, RACV has revealed the adverse impact chronic pain has on safety while driving.
RACV’s research involved in-depth interviews with 23 Australian drivers and 17 health professionals, as well as an online survey of 90 people.
The research looked at what is currently in place to help drivers experiencing chronic pain, understanding the needs and challenges associated with it and recommendations to improve safe driving practices for sufferers of chronic pain.
RACV’s Senior Policy Adviser – Safety, Elvira Lazar, said the study found chronic pain could reduce a driver’s attention and reaction time and cause impatience towards other road users. Taking medication for the chronic pain could also impact driving ability.
“We found that driving with chronic pain has an impact both inside and outside the vehicle, as many respondents reported driving for prolonged periods exacerbated their pain and resulted in challenges in other tasks or activities in the home or at work,” Ms Lazar said.
"Drivers may benefit from the establishment of clear guidelines and a training program for health professionals to assess whether their patients’ chronic pain is affecting their driving ability.
“While people experiencing chronic pain self-regulate their driving, our survey found they could also benefit from personalised occupational therapy and physiotherapy recommendations on vehicle ergonomics, an assessment of their car seating and educational strategies to reduce pain flare-ups while driving.
“Another recommendation we have is for those who are suffering from chronic pain to have open-discussions about their driving with their health professional and family members.”
As a result of the survey, RACV will engage with stakeholders, including the National Transport Commission, to help improve safety for those experiencing chronic pain while driving.
National Road Safety Week runs until 23 May.