Polyneuropathy may result in pain, numbness, and weakness, which may in turn affect driving ability. Medications used to treat neuropathic pain may alter cognition, which may further affect driving. Although such impairments have engendered questions about the driving safety in this group of patients, the rate of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in patients with neuropathy has not been studied rigorously. We surveyed patients with neuropathy from three medical centers for reported accident rate, and we analyzed variables related to increased risk for accidents compared to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Surveys from 260 subjects demonstrated that 40.6% were involved in traffic accidents (0.11 accidents/year). Their accident rate was 10.8 MVAs per million vehicle miles traveled (MVA/MVMT), compared to 3.71 MVA/MVMT in 55-59-year-old drivers and 3.72 in 60-64-year-olds (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data). In all, 72.4% cited their neuropathy and 55.2% cited their medications as playing a role in their accidents, and 51.6% changed their driving habits after developing neuropathy. Independently, elevated levels of pain, motor weakness, and ambulation difficulty met statistical significance for increased MVA frequency. We conclude that accident frequency and discomfort with driving are higher in neuropathy patients compared to age-matched national statistics. However, most patients seem to change habits according to their ability to drive; as such, driving issues should be addressed with caution and on a case-by-case basis.
View details for DOI 10.1002/mus.21511
View details for PubMedID 19882633