NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The driver of the bus that veered from a six-lane highway, killing 22 people, reportedly suffers from diabetes and other problems and might fail his next physical exam, a state licensing official said today.

``If his condition is as serious as we have been hearing since the accident, he probably wouldn't pass a test,'' said Kay Covington, the head of the state Office of Motor Vehicles.

However, there was no way to tell today whether Frank Bedell's health problems contributed to the wreck Sunday morning, as he headed toward a casino on Mississippi's Gulf Coast with 43 passengers, most of them elderly.

Twenty-two people were killed and 15 others were still hospitalized Monday. including Bedell, in what officials called the worst motor vehicle accident in New Orleans history.

Bedell's mother, Evelyn Bedell, said her son began dialysis in the last three months, because his kidneys failed.

Bedell, 49, also is diabetic. But diabetics who do not need to take insulin shots can get commercial licenses, Ms. Covington said. She said he passed the required medical exam in 1995, and his next was due this fall.

Drivers don't have to report new medical problems or any deterioration in condition between renewals, said Stephen Quidd, attorney for the state motor vehicles division.

Asked if they should, considering the accident, Quidd said: ``It's probably something we'll want to study. But it is not as simple an issue as you might think. It gets complicated, especially in the area of liability. Who is responsible if the employee does not do it? The employer? The physician? A neighbor who might have knowledge?''

Bedell's mother told The Times-Picayune on Monday that her son began missing a lot of work after he began dialysis, and Custom Bus Charters officials asked him to go on disability.

Bus company officials would not talk about Bedell's medical condition, or what they knew about it or when.

Most of the victims of the Mother's Day crash were in their 70s and 80s. Two were over 90. All but one were from the towns of LaPlace, Reserve and Edgard in St. John the Baptist Parish, about 25 miles west of New Orleans.

And 81-year-old Marion Mancuso, called ``Mae'' by her friends, was one of the most enthusiastic for the regular casino trips, which participants said were more for socializing than for winning at gambling.

``What can you say?'' asked Martha Hymel, a resident of the Place Dubourg retirement home where Ms. Mancuso lived. ``She said she was going to the casino even if she had to be rolled in a wheelchair.'' Ms. Mancuso was one of those who died.

``There's so many questions, the hows and the whys,'' said Rose Garnet, whose 82-year-old mother, Florence Mathieu, another Place Dubourg resident, also died. ``We're just trying to get past this.''

Juanita Marse, 73, and her husband, Arto, 74, made the casino trip about once a month from Reserve, said Nancy Desselle, their daughter. They rarely won more than $10, but they loved getting together with other people their age.

``They would play games on the bus,'' Ms. Desselle said. ``They looked forward to the trip as much as the casino, the friendliness of it.''