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Dementia, dementia, every day dementia seems to feature in the UK media. What to do to avoid it, what not to do to avoid it which sometimes seems to be the same thing, how to cope with it when you get it, how to cope with others who have it and—occasionally—who should not be driving. A recent letter writer to the Guardian newspaper suggested ‘Any driver over 70, and many other younger ones, who have some relevant medical problem, need to be independently assessed at regular intervals’. A ludicrous suggestion. Alzheimer's Research UK reckons there are 830 000 people with dementia in the country. Assuming at least half of them are too old or in care homes, or are clearly too demented to drive, and that the incidence might be at least one-tenth of the prevalence, there are likely to be maybe 40 000 new cases a year, by definition in the early stages and who might want to continue driving. Therefore, each of the 17 UK driving assessment centres would have to examine about nine people a day in year one, more when the re-examinations came round. There is only one centre for the whole of Scotland; assessing a dementia referral takes them 2–3 h, including a 14-mile road test and so only about three drivers a day can be handled by one …
Competing interests CW was Chairman of the Medical Advisory Neurology Panel to the Department of Transport, 2004–2009.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.