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Tough guidance urging GPs to report patients who flout a medical driving ban have been adopted by the General Medical Council.
From this week doctors will be told they must make “every reasonable effort” to persuade people not to drive if they are deemed medically unfit to do so.
And they will have a duty to tell the authorities if they believe there is a risk of “death or serious harm” to others.
But when does the DVLA need to be informed of your health problems and when do you need to tell your insurer you have been advised not to drive?
When you initially inquire about car insurance you’ll be asked to declare any DVLA-reportable medical conditions or disabilities. Your disclosure must be detailed or you risk committing an offence and invalidating your policy.
You must keep the DVLA informed of your health if it deteriorates and failure to do so can incur a fine. It is also essential to inform your insurer so they can consider any new risks posed.
But which conditions could lead to a medical driving ban?
Medication that impairs alertness or judgement will invalidate your licence. If your medication affects your driving your doctor will advise how long to avoid driving.
The DVLA needs to be informed of surgery that prevents you from driving for more than three months.
You must read a number plate from 20.5m without difficulty (with or without glasses). If you develop cataracts, night blindness or lose sight in an eye, you must inform the DVLA.
You may have to inform the DVLA if you develop diabetes, depending on your treatment. If it is treated with insulin you will be issued with a licence for one, two or three years, depending on the severity. Your doctor will advise.
The law differs depending on whether you suffer asleep seizures or awake seizures. With asleep seizures, you can be issued a licence for up to three years. With awake seizures you need to inform your doctor and the DVLA immediately. Many factors impact on seizures, such as medication used to treat them, and cases are dealt with individually.
Cases are dealt with individually but one restriction applies to all; you cannot drive for at least one month. You must then consult a doctor to assess when you will be safe to drive.
Other neurological conditions
There are individual safety standards for driving with neurological conditions including narcolepsy, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury and aneurysms. A one to three year licence may be issued but in other cases a licence will be revoked until you show six incident-free months.
Most cancers do not affect driving and do not require notification. However, the secondary effects of cancers, such as weakness and lack of focus, may influence licence eligibility. Your doctor will advise.
Many heart conditions do not affect ability to drive. Doctors will advise on specific conditions and may advise cessation of driving during recovery.
The DVLA rates mental health on periods of stability, between six and 12 months. With anxiety and depression, if the doctor confirms no concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts, the DVLA need not be informed. More acute psychosis and chronic schizophrenia are rated case by case. Conditions more likely to affect eligibility include Asperger’s, autism, dementia and ADHD.
Advanced technology and vehicle adaptation means it is possible to drive with permanent limb and spinal disabilities. DVLA needs to informed of changes to a vehicle and will amend an individual’s licence accordingly.