U.S. State Driving Regulations Relevant to Foot and Ankle Surgeons

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The effect of lower extremity pathology and surgery on automobile driving has been a topic of contemporary interest, because these conditions can be associated with impaired driving function. We reviewed the U.S. driving laws relative to foot and ankle patients, for the 50 U.S. states (and District of Columbia). We aimed to address the following questions relative to noncommercial driving regulations: does the state have regulations with respect to driving in a lower extremity cast, driving with a foot/ankle immobilization device, driving with acute or chronic lower extremity pathology or disability, those who have undergone foot and/or ankle surgery, and those with diabetes? Full state-specific answers to the preceding questions are provided. Most states had no explicit or specific regulations with respect to driving in a lower extremity cast, a lower extremity immobilization device, or after foot and/or ankle surgery. Most states asked about diabetes during licensing application and renewal, and some asked specifically about lower extremity neuropathy and amputation. Most did not require physicians to report their patients with potentially impaired driving function (Pennsylvania and Oregon excepted) but had processes in place to allow them to do so at their discretion. Most states have granted civil and/or criminal immunity to physicians with respect to reporting (or lack of reporting) of potentially impaired drivers. It is our hope that this information will be useful in the development of future investigations focusing on driving safety in patients with lower extremity dysfunction.

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