Kenya has launched a road curriculum stopping hypertensives, visually-impaired and people hard of hearing from driving on the roads. The National Transport and Safety Authority said it had made it compulsory for new drivers seeking licencing to undergo a medical test to determine if they suffer from any of the conditions.
According to the new curriculum, drivers are supposed to renew their licences every 10 years, and only after submitting a medical report.
However, above-60 years old drivers must submit a medical report every year.
The medical tests will also include a range of brain-related conditions and diseases that disable mobility and muscle movement such as stroke.
In the curriculum, eye conditions lead a long list of mandatory medical tests for new drivers as well as old ones seeking licence renewals.
According to NTSA Deputy Director in charge of safety, Dr, Duncan Kibogong, some conditions will lead to automatic disqualification.
“For epilepsy, it is a no. The fact is, no one, including the driver, has any idea when the seizures can occur,” said Dr Kibogong.
The medical tests will also include the drivers’ heart condition as well as sleep, alcohol and drug-related disorders.
The tests will also look out for a driver’s susceptibility to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and stroke.
Kibogong said NTSA would work closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that only those who were fit were allowed on the road.
“In some cases, it does not make sense to even allow you to train as a driver when we know you are not fit,” said Kibogong.
He however insisted that the mandatory health clearance should not be viewed as discrimination against certain conditions.
“In most of these cases, it is just about correcting them. For example, for poor eyesight, you can be given glasses and you will be fine. There are only a few conditions that we may not allow,” he said.
Drivers to be affected by the new rules are those applying for new licences and those seeking renewals this year.
The practice of pegging the issuance of driver’s licences to medical tests may be new in the country but has been in force for years in other parts of the world.