Analysis of vehicle collision cases in court where the driver suffers from unconsciousness due to epileptic fit: A study on the precedents for drivers' duty of care, and several problems regarding the present road traffic law

Mineko Babau, Masahito Hitosugi, Sadakazu Aiso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In recent years, there have been sporadic incidents of traffic accidents caused by epilepsy. We investigated the real state of these cases and the criminal liability of drivers. We study twenty-two cases dating from 1966 to 2011. Though the Traffic Road Law, which was changed in 2002, enabled epileptics to obtain a driver's license, none of the drivers declared their pre-existing epileptic condition. Seventeen drivers (77.3%) were prosecuted, and five drivers (22.7%) were not prosecuted. Fourteen (82.4%) of the seventeen cases that were handed down a sentence resulted in convictions. The sentencing appears to have become more severe as the years pass. The majority of the drivers continued driving, although they were advised to refrain from doing so by doctors. We think that it is necessary to establish a system to evaluate driving skills. Moreover, it is important to enlighten doctors so that they are better able to advise patients whether it is safe to drive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-18
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Japan Epilepsy Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • Criminal liability
  • Driver's license
  • Epilepsy
  • Judicial precedent
  • Traffic accident

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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