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J Family Community Med. 2019 Jan-Apr;26(1):51-56. doi: 10.4103/jfcm.JFCM_177_17.

Prevalence of patients with epilepsy unfit to drive.

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Department of Family Medicine, King Fahad Specialist Hospital, Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



There is no consensus among medical experts as to whether patients with epilepsy (PWEs) should be permitted to drive. PWEs who have had uncontrolled seizures in the past year are at an increased risk of road traffic accidents, often leading to the destruction of property, injury, or death. Currently, there is no clear policy on whether PWEs can drive in Saudi Arabia. Existing policies attempt to balance the potentially harmful and beneficial aspects of the issue. The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence of PWEs who are unfit to drive.


Data were collected by interviews, a structured validated questionnaire, and a review of the medical records of 140 PWEs, with a response rate of 84%.


Fifty four percent of PWEs were found unfit to drive. Of the 118 participants, 17.7% did not drive and 97 (82.3%) drove. Of the 21 patients who did not drive, 14 (11.8% of the total sample) never drove and 7 (5.9% of the total sample) stopped driving because of epilepsy. Of the 104 patients who drove, 45 (43.2% of the total sample) had a history of seizures while they drove. These incidents had resulted in the involvement of 28 patients (26.9% of the total sample) in motor vehicle accidents and 17 (16.3% of the total sample) patients being admitted to the emergency room.


Structured regulation and licensing procedures are necessary for PWEs to drive safely. Regulations in other countries demand that seizures be controlled for 1 year before epileptic patients are allowed unrestricted driving. Such regulations would improve road safety in Saudi Arabia.


Driver's license; epilepsy; motor vehicle accident; seizure; traffic

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