We assess and monitor Albertans’ driver medical fitness to make sure those on the road are not a danger to themselves or others. Restricting someone’s driving eligibility is a decision that is not taken lightly. We follow a robust process to make appropriate decisions around someone’s ability to drive safely.
Throughout the driver medical review process, we use Canada’s National Safety Code (NSC) –Standard 6 – Determining Driver Fitness in Canada. Standard 6 sets the medical criteria used to establish whether drivers are medically fit to drive.
The driver medical review process follows these 4 steps.
Step 1. Medical exam requirements
Some drivers are required to undergo medical examinations. You may have a medical condition or a physical disability that causes a risk for your ability to drive safely. There is also specific medical examination requirement for seniors with a Class 3, 5, 6, and 7 driver’s licence, and commercial drivers with a Class 1, 2, and 4 driver’s licences. This first step is determining whether you have medical exam requirements.
Medical exam requirements
- You are required to self-report any disease or disability that may interfere with your ability to drive safely.
- If others are concerned about your ability to drive, such as concerned citizens, health care professionals, or law enforcement officers, they may report these concerns to us.
- For more information, go to Report a driver medical fitness concern.
Common medical conditions
A variety of medical conditions may impact your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, such as:
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Aortic dissection
- Cardiovascular diseases (myocardial infarctions, atrial fibrillation, pacemaker/ICD)
- Cerebrovascular diseases
- Cognitive impairment including dementia
- Diabetes – Hypoglycemia (if treated with insulin)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – Pulmonary embolism
- Intracranial tumours
- Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s
- Musculoskeletal (amputations, paralysis, limb malformations)
- Peripheral arterial disease-severe claudication
- Psychiatric disorders (bipolar, schizophrenia/schizoaffective, psychosis)
- Respiratory diseases (COPD, oxygen use)
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Sleep apnea
- Syncope (loss of awareness and consciousness)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Vestibular disorders (vertigo and dizziness)
- Vision impairment
Class 3, 5, 6 and 7 – Aging drivers
As you get older, you are at a higher risk of deteriorating health that may impact your ability to drive. Aging is associated with increased risk for a broad range of medical conditions, such as visual impairments, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cognitive impairment and dementia. These medical conditions and the medications used to treat them may affect your fitness to drive.
Medical examination requirements have been set to protect the safety of aging drivers and those around them. For Class 3, 5, 6, and 7 drivers, medical reports are required at:
- age 75
- age 80
- every 2 years after age 80
Class 1, 2 and 4 – Commercial drivers
Commercial drivers require a higher level of fitness and more frequent checks, because of increased risk and larger potential consequences of a collision. The risks associated with commercial drivers are higher because you may be:
- driving vehicles that are bigger in size and weight
- carrying dangerous goods
- carrying (more) passengers
- driving under more adverse conditions due to work requirements (such as driving long hours and distances, and driving during stressful situations)
For Class 1, 2, and 4 commercial drivers, medical reports are required:
- every 5 years until age 45
- every 3 years after age 45 until age 65
- annually after age 65
Step 2. Assessment
If you have driver medical examination requirements, you may be required to complete a general medical assessment.
Depending on the complexity of your situation, we may send you a letter requiring you to complete specific assessments or examinations to better understand your ability to drive safely. This could include medical or functional assessments and examinations, driving lessons, or a road test.
General medical assessments
Most drivers with medical examination requirements must provide a completed Medical Examination for Motor Vehicle Operators form.
This form may be filled out and signed by any Canadian licensed physician or nurse practitioner. It is up to the health care professionals to select appropriate screening tools to complete this form.
A medical report is valid for 6 months after it is completed.
You can apply for your licence 6 months in advance of your renewal date. If you require this report for the renewal of your licence, this gives you a window of almost a year to complete the medical exam before your licence expires.
Cost of driver medical examinations
It is up to individual drivers to determine if you want to meet requirements and assume driving-related costs.
Driver medical examinations are not insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). AHCIP is intended for medically required services only. Physicians operate as independent businesses and are allowed to set their own rates for any uninsured services. Physicians must advise patients of the cost of the exam before starting the exam. Physicians are also encouraged to follow the rate previously paid under the AHCIP, which was $85.58.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) is the regulatory body for physicians in Alberta. The CPSA standards state that the amounts charged by physicians for uninsured services must reasonably reflect physician professional costs, administrative costs, and the patient’s ability to pay. If you disagree with your physician’s charges, you may report your concern to CPSA Patient Advocate at 1‑800‑661‑4689.
Specific assessments and examinations
In some cases, you may receive a request from us to go to your doctor, physician or specialist to provide more information on your medical condition. You may also have to complete a functional assessment. The details of these requirements will be specified to you in a letter.
Health care professionals may use a variety of screening tools to determine your medical status. A health care professional may also choose to refer drivers of any age for a driving assessment if there are concerns regarding that person’s fitness to drive safely.
Some of these assessments include direct observation or measurement of the functions necessary for driving, and may be conducted by an occupational therapist, driving rehabilitation specialist, or through an independent assessment agency. These assessment agencies are private companies and are not affiliated with the Government of Alberta. The assessment results are reviewed by the physician with the patient, and it is left up to the physician to determine whether to forward the results to us.
In some cases, we will send you a letter, requiring you to complete or pass a road test to demonstrate driver fitness. When this is the case, the first test is free of charge. Additional test are not covered.
Step 3. Determination
Once you have gone through the appropriate examinations and assessments, a determination will be made regarding your driver fitness. This could have a variety of outcomes:
- You are safe to drive without any conditions.
- You may get a condition code that restricts your driving ability in some way, or that requires you to provide periodic medical examinations.
- Go to condition codes and endorsements
- You may be unable to hold your current class licence, but eligible for a lower-class licence.
- Your driving privileges may be suspended.
Commercial drivers’ restrictions within the United States
As part of the Canada/United States Medical Reciprocity Agreement, Alberta and all other Canadian jurisdictions require a Condition Code “W” to appear on the driver’s licences of commercial drivers who can drive without restriction in Canada but are not permitted to drive in the United States because of different minimum medical standards for commercial driving. Those travelling with at Code W in a non-commercial vehicle will be granted access.
The Code W applies to Class 1, 2 or 4 commercial drivers with one or more of the following conditions:
- established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy and/or seizures
- unable to meet minimum hearing requirements to transport dangerous goods
- monocular vision
Cancelling your driver’s licence
If at any point in the process, you determine you do not want to drive anymore you can go to any Alberta registry agent office to turn in your driver’s licence and obtain a Class 8 photo ID card if you require photo identification.
Step 4. Reassessment and reconsideration
Some drivers may have ongoing requirements, such as providing periodic medical examinations. These assessments will help make sure that you continue to be safe to drive.
If you believe you may be eligible for the removal of a condition code or suspension on your licence related to your driver medical fitness, follow the specific requirements in the letter sent to you.
If you are unclear about the specific requirements for reconsideration of your licence or if you believe a mistake has been made in the review of your file, contact the Driver Programs Client Support Centre for further assistance.
Connect with the Driver Programs Client Support Centre
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