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Driving With Epilepsy Safe for Many

Study: OK to Drive If Seizure Free for 3 Months
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July 9, 2003 -- More lenient driving rules for people with epilepsy don't result in more crashes, Arizona data suggests.

Some 2.5 million Americans have epilepsy. Thanks to modern medicine, most are able to keep their seizures under control.

State laws refuse driver's licenses to people with epilepsy unless they have been free of seizures for a period of time. This seizure-free period ranges from three to 18 months. Which is best?

In 1994, Arizona dropped its seizure-free period from 12 to three months. Mayo Clinic researcher Joseph F. Drazkowski, MD, and colleagues looked at what happened. They looked at seizure-related car crashes in the three years before and the three years after the change.

"The rate of seizure-related crashes did not significantly increase in the state of Arizona after the seizure-free interval was reduced from 12 to three months," they write in the July 2003 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

More liberal driving rules may actually help, suggests an accompanying editorial by Allan Krumholz, MD, of the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

"More permissive restrictions, although potentially increasing the individual risk of a crash, may actually reduce the cumulative crash risk by promoting compliance with legal driving rules by more people," he suggests.

Krumholz notes that common sense should prevail. People who have seizures every four months obviously should never drive, even if they're legally permitted to do so.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, July 2003.

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