Is the LTO’s medical test a ‘scam’?

A letter sender raises a concern. An LTO official addresses it
by TopGear.com.ph | May 7, 2019
PHOTO: Leandre Grecia

While the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is still working out the kinks of the online submission of medical certificates, an interesting message arrived in our inbox. It is from a doctor who claims to work at a private clinic that grants medical certificates to LTO license applicants. The sender has requested to remain anonymous.

Here’s a snippet from that note, with minor grammatical corrections: 

I’m a doctor who works for a private clinic that certifies drivers for their LTO license. I’ve only been doing it for a month and I’ve been strict about who I should approve or not. And it’s not just to protect me, but everyone who uses the road as well.

This morning, someone with hearing impairment due to bilateral perforated eardrum came in to get a certification from me and I didn’t want him to get it without clearance from a specialist. After that, he went to the LTO and was still given a certification to drive. I’ve also had other patients who are legally blind in one eye and could not read. Sometimes, the owners of my clinic ask me to be more lenient, but I can’t. Not when I know that some medical conditions could lead to accidents.

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I just want the public to know how they are being served. Thank you.

To address the issue, we contacted Benjamin Santiago III, regional director for LTO NCR-East. According to Santiago, the only disability that would absolutely deny a person’s permission to drive is legal blindness. Other physical handicaps, such as the loss of a limb or partial deafness, should not automatically be the basis for the rejection of a driver’s license application. He also adds that there is no law that states a person with disability (PWD) should not be allowed to drive.

What a doctor can do is assist the LTO in identifying certain restrictions by indicating if the applicant is suffering from specific illnesses or disability. These restrictions are reflected on the license itself. In the case above, for example, the partial loss of hearing may hinder a person’s ability to detect certain auditory cues, such as the sound of approaching vehicles, car horns, and whistles. However, with the necessary precautions, this PWD can still get behind the wheel. But if the applicant has no sense of hearing whatsoever, that’s a different story.

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Santiago notes there are accessories designed specifically to aid drivers with disabilities, such as gas- and brake-pedal extensions. “Loss of limb, loss of smell, partial loss of hearing—those aren’t problems,” adds Santiago. You can still drive.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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PHOTO: Leandre Grecia
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