A coroner in Queensland, Australia has suggested the medical requirements of epileptics among commercial truck drivers be reviewed.
Ms. Annette Hennessy of Rockhampton also recommended "that Queensland Transport review the medical requirements in relation to licensing of commercial truck drivers with epilepsy with a view to requiring medical certificates to be issued by a neurologist rather than a general practitioner."
AdvertisementThe directive comes in the wake of the death of a couple.
The Rockhampton Coroner's Court found Peter James and Pauline Maczkowiack died when their car collided head-on with a removal truck on the Bruce Highway north of Marlborough on December 27, 2006.
It was determined that the truck driver Donald MacFarlane possibly suffered a "partial epileptic seizure" or fell asleep at the wheel.
"It is more likely the former, given Mr MacFarlane's medical history, the circumstances of his erratic driving leading up to the incident, and the opportunities for rest Mr MacFarlane had in the days and hours before the collision," Ms Hennessy said in her written findings.
"Mr MacFarlane was charged with dangerous driving causing death but died of an unrelated condition before the charges could be finalised."
The inquest was told MacFarlane's employer, Nanango Removals, was aware he had epilepsy but that he was cleared to drive by the company's insurer.
However, medical evidence from Mr MacFarlane's GP, Dr Robyn Ogle, claimed no official forms had been completed for Queensland Transport to authorise him to drive.
"Dr Ogle stated in evidence that she would have had concerns if she had known that Mr MacFarlane was driving commercial trucks due to his previous history of uncontrolled epilepsy," Ms Hennessy said.
"(Dr Ogle) said that she would not have endorsed him to drive commercially and would have referred Mr MacFarlane to a neurologistfor assessment for licensing purposes."
Ms Hennessy recommended that the trucking company should pay more attention to its drivers' medical conditions and their need for prescription medications.