Examining Driving Habits Of People With Epilepsy

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Research shows that people with epilepsy continue to drive despite medical restrictions. In a study from the Ohio State University Medical Center, 26 percent of patients with epilepsy reported having an accident due to a seizure and 19 percent said they were dishonest about seizures in order to drive.

The study, published in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, found that prior attitudes and behavior are difficult to change and participants’ main reason for driving was due to their occupation.

“Instead of focusing on the dangers of driving for patients, it is important to discuss with patients how to overcome perceived and actual barriers to transportation,” says Lucretia Long, author of the study and assistant professor of neurology at The Ohio State University Medical Center. “Addressing health behaviors while counseling persons with epilepsy is also crucial.”


The study also suggests that persons with epilepsy would benefit from employers’ assistance with workplace programs and legislation supporting transportation resources. Allowing people with epilepsy to work from home and providing adequate public assistance are a few options.

The study found that 35 percent of patients said they were not confident to use public transportation. Some feared the possibility of having a seizure, which increases the risk for injury while walking to public bus stations. In addition, a large percentage felt that family and friends were not available to assist with transportation needs.

John Elliot is the co-author and clinical research data manager in the Department of Neurology at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

The study included a total of 213 participants who were asked to complete a 46-item questionnaire with all responses submitted anonymously.

Epilepsy can result from head injuries, lack of oxygen during birth, brain tumors and strokes. However, according to The Epilepsy Foundation, the cause of epilepsy is unknown in 7 out of 10 people. Furthermore, epilepsy is the third most common neurological disorder in the United States after Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. This disorder affects more than 326,000 children under age fifteen and more than 90,000 of them have severe seizures that cannot be adequately treated.