Sudden natural death behind the wheel: Review of driver deaths and fitness to drive assessment history in Victoria, Australia 2012–2013 Academic Article uri icon


  • This study reviews the circumstances and medical causes of death of motor vehicle drivers who died in circumstances of sudden illness whilst behind the wheel in Victoria, Australia 2012-13. The driver's fitness to drive assessment history was also examined to identify prevention opportunities. Deaths included in the study were those referred to a panel responsible for determining whether the driver fatality should be included in the official road toll, where prior doubt exists. A research team comprising of forensic physicians examined the case file of each death involving sudden illness. Forty-five driver deaths during the two-year period were reviewed. Ischaemic heart disease was the most common cause of death. Over 80% of drivers were male with a median age of 64 years. While limited medical history was available, significantly impacting study analysis, findings identified minimal opportunity to improve the fitness to drive review process.

publication date

  • 2019