British drivers are being warned that they could leave themselves open to fines and prosecution if they don’t inform the DVLA of some health conditions.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) requires motorists to inform it if they suffer from any of the medical conditions on its notifiable conditions list. But it is estimated that millions of drivers are on the road with conditions they should, but haven’t, told the DVLA about.
While some of them are obvious, drivers are being urged to be aware of lesser-known conditions that could land them in trouble.
If you don’t tell the DVLA about a medical condition which might affect your driving you could be hit with a £1,000 fine. If you’re involved in an accident because of your condition you could also face prosecution.
Some conditions seem obvious – a traumatic brain injury, suffering from convulsions or seizures, problems with your sight or alcoholism – but others are not so clear cut and with the DVLA list running to nearly 200 it’s worth checking if any of your health problems are on there.
A spokesman for the car leasing site leasecar.uk warns against complacency when you’re suffering from a medical condition: “If you suffer a broken limb or severe head injury that affects your memory or ability to perform everyday tasks, you’re probably not going to be able to operate a vehicle safely either.
“In these cases, it seems obvious that you’d have to let the DVLA know about it.
“There are some conditions however, that seem too unrelated to even consider spending the time to fill out a form to tell the DVLA about.
“These are the kind of conditions we’ve listed, to try and inform drivers and hopefully help many stay safe and avoid any fines – or even prosecution.”
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.
The DVLA may decide to give you a time-restricted licence for 1, 2 or 3 years. This happens in cases where they feel your illness is likely to progressively reduce your driving ability.
However, you can renew the licence after its expiration by filling out another medical report so the DVLA can monitor your condition.
Surprisingly, GOV.UK lists déjà vu as one of the health conditions that could affect your driving. Whilst most people will regard déjà vu as a common experience in healthy individuals, it is also associated with certain types of epilepsy – this experience of déjà vu is a neurological anomaly related to epileptic electrical discharge in the brain. It is this medically induced déjà vu you need to inform the DVLA about.
Labyrinthitis is a common inner ear infection that causes a delicate structure deep inside your ear (the labyrinth) to become inflamed. Symptoms can vary in severity, but usually get better after a few weeks. They can include mild headaches, some hearing loss, ear pain and vertigo. However, in some cases the symptoms can last longer and have a significant impact on your ability to carry out everyday tasks, so you should let the DVLA know.
Sleep apnoea is a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. This may lead to regularly interrupted sleep, which can have a big impact on your quality of life, increase the risk of developing certain conditions, and even cause you to fall asleep at the wheel which is incredibly dangerous. It’s in these severe cases that you should get in contact with your GP/consultant for further advice and consider informing the DVLA.
Having an unhealthy attitude to food doesn’t seem like something that could affect your driving ability straight off the bat, yet there are severe cases that cause horrible side effects like being weak and dizzy. You must tell the DVLA if you suffer from an eating disorder (e.g. anorexia nervosa) and it affects your ability to drive safely. Speak to your doctor is you are unsure.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint, with around 10 million people suffering from it across the UK. It can affect people of all ages, including children, and as the most commonly affected joints are those in the hands, spine, knees and hips – which obviously you all need full use of to be able to sit in a car and drive safely – so you should tell the DVLA if your condition affects your driving and has lasted more than three months.
Mental ill health
It’s not just physical conditions that can compromise your ability to drive. Many mental health issues can make driving unsafe, too.
The DVLA consider some forms of anxiety, depression and psychosis a risk due to agitation and the potential of drivers to change mood. If you have a mental illness or are taking medication that may affect your driving, you need to tell the DVLA.
Other mental health conditions you’ll need to declare to the DVLA include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Personality Disorder. This is because of the potential for them to affect behaviour.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
If your ASD compromises your ability to drive safely, you’ll need to tell the DVLA. Possible struggles related to ASD may include problems with perception and multitasking. However, not everyone with ASD will need to declare, if they feel it has no effect on their driving.
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