Driving and your health

New to driving

When you started driving you probably applied for your provisional driving license, had a few lessons and maybe did the theory driving test. Then the big day, stand in the street with a driving test examiner, please read the number plate on that red car they point at down the road, drive where they tell you, pass your test and then yippee, you can now be in charge of a huge piece of dangerous moving equipment!  Scary.

It’s great, that freedom to travel for work, shopping and pleasure.

What happens then?   

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority) is part of the UK government services.

The GOV.UK website states –  before you drive or ride you must:-

-have the correct driving licence

-be the minimum driving or riding age

-meet the minimum eyesight rules

It doesn’t seem like much does it?  What many people don’t know about is driving and health.

What are the rules?

There is a drivers’ medical section within the DVLA that deals with all aspects of driver licensing when there are medical conditions that impact, or potentially impact, on safe control of a vehicle. General Practitioners (GPs) and hospital specialists are well aware of the medical guidance, which is updated periodically.

Drivers may not know about their responsibilities and health conditions. They may not have been given the right advice about driving with a health condition or that they should notify the DVLA or sometimes they may choose not to take the advice and will continue driving.

It is the license holder’s responsibility to notify the DVLA of a health condition which could affect safe driving. The license holder could be subject to a fine or even prosecuted in the event of an accident if the DVLA is not notified of a listed condition.  

These medical conditions and symptoms include (but not limited to) head injuries, stroke, heart conditions, pacemaker, alcohol dependence, starting treatment with insulin, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, blackouts, medication side effects, absence seizures, severe depression, glaucoma, giddiness or vertigo and sleep apnoea for example.  


If you are a driver                             

Do check on the website via the link above and discuss this with your GP or hospital team if you need to notify your condition to the DVLA and /or if you need to refrain from driving. 

You may be restricted from driving for a defined period, after a heart attack for example, but do not have to notify the DVLA. 

The DVLA may advise that you can continue driving and issue a medically restricted driving license and have a review in 1, 3 or 5 years.  

Or you may be advised not to drive pending the medical enquiries or until your health condition is controlled satisfies the DVLA.  The DVLA will correspond with you directly. 

You must surrender your licence to DVLA if your doctor tells you to stop driving for 3 months or more; if your medical condition affects your ability to drive safely and lasts for 3 months or more, or if you do not meet the required standards for driving because of your medical condition.

Regular eye check-ups with an optician are recommended and where required, you must wear glasses or contact lenses for driving.

You may be able to take advantage of periodic well-person clinics for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes checks to identify any problems early.

Don’t forget to inform your vehicle insurer of your health changes as well, otherwise accident claims could potentially be invalidated.

If you are a manager

Drivers, whether their own car, work van, motorbike, fork lift truck, crane, minibus or HGV/ PSV, the topic of driver safety and the safety of colleagues or members of the public should always be considered. You could review company policies and routine license checks for vocational drivers.

Local risk assessment may be appropriate, for example after an ankle and foot injury, to ensure full control of the foot pedals and ability to perform an emergency stop.

Where an employee is unable to drive for medical or disability reasons, sometimes the UK.GOV Access to Work scheme can help with travel costs.

You may be able to support your colleague in other ways such as change of shift patterns temporarily or permanently so they can lift share, or use public transport, or where they need to take medication at certain times of the day which could reduce the risk of driving when drowsy. Provision of an automatic vehicle could also be a consideration in some cases.

Smart Clinic

Please do not hesitate to refer your colleague to occupational health in the event of concerns about driver health. Don’t forget, we won’t have any consultations if they are driving, even if on a

hands-free phone!

Safe driving!