Doctors recently warned that delays in processing driving licences could be putting lives at risk by allowing unsafe drivers to remain on the road,
The British Medical Association (BMA) said that due to delays at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) some drivers could be bypassing their regular GP and gaining fitness to drive approval from practitioners who didn’t know their full history.
Drivers with certain medical conditions need sign-off from their doctor to retain their licence and the DVLA requires drivers to notify it if they suffer from any one of a long list of “notifiable conditions”.
Failure to do so can carry a fine of £1,000 and if you’re involved in an accident because of your condition you could also face prosecution.
The full list includes almost 200 ailments and while it’s clear that drivers need to report some - for instance, blackouts, seizures or a traumatic brain injury - other conditions aren’t quite so obvious or only need to be declared in some situations.
Among the less expected conditions are:
While most people might think of déjà vu as a fairly common experience, it is also associated with certain types of epilepsy. In these cases, déjà vu is linked to epileptic electrical discharge in the brain and it is this medically induced déjà vu you need to tell the DVLA about.
Labyrinthitis is a common inner ear infection that causes inflammation deep in the ear. Symptoms can include mild headaches, some hearing loss, ear pain and vertigo and usually clear up within a few weeks. However, in some cases the symptoms can last longer and have an impact on everyday tasks such as driving, so it’s important that you let the DVLA know.
Suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia does not mean you automatically have to inform the DVLA. However, if you or your doctor thinks that it could affect your driving, for instance if it could cause dizziness, then you must tell the DVLA.
In certain situations, you’ll need to tell the DVLA you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. These include if you develop problems with your brain or nervous system and if you’re taking medication that has side effects that could affect your ability to drive. Once you make a notification, the DVLA may decide to give you a time-restricted licence. This could cover one, two or three years in cases where they feel your illness is likely to progressively reduce your driving ability.
Arthritis is a common condition that affects around 10 million people in the UK. While more common in older people, it can affect younger motorists as well, causing joint pain and inflammation. Suffering from arthritis won’t necessarily stop you being able to drive but it can have an impact on how well you can operate the controls and might lead to the need for special controls. Your doctor will be able to tell you if the condition is serious enough to need to inform the DVLA.
Issues with sleeping can have a serious effect on your ability to drive and in extreme cases could lead to you falling asleep at the wheel. That’s why in more serious cases it’s a legal requirement to inform the DVLA. If you suffer from moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, narcolepsy or cataplexy, or any other sleep condition that has caused excessive sleepiness for at least three months you must inform the DVLA.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
ASD is another condition which you only need to declare if your doctor thinks it could compromise your ability to drive safely. Possible struggles related to ASD may include problems with perception and multitasking but your doctor will be able to advise on whether you need to make a declaration.
Anxiety is among a number of conditions related to mental health which can, in some instances, have an effect on your ability to drive. Some forms of anxiety and depression are considered notifiable conditions due the potential of drivers to change mood or for medication to affect your ability to drive. If you are suffering from a mental health condition or are taking medication that may affect your driving, you may need to tell the DVLA.