Driving safely requires a lot of different skills and senses to be used together, which means that there are many health conditions that may affect your ability to drive. The health guidelines also vary depending on the type vehicle you drive and licence you hold.
There are two different groups of driver’s licence in the UK: Group 1 for cars and motorcycles (categories A and B) and Group 2 for lorries and buses (categories C and D) - and the health requirements for these groups vary. Generally speaking, the medical health standards for driving a lorry or bus are much higher than those for cars and motorbikes. This is because Group 2 drivers need to operate much bigger, heavier vehicles and spend much more time at the wheel.
These licences require medical self-declaration, which means that it’s up to you to report any medical conditions when you apply for your licence or if you later develop a medical condition. Group 1 licences are normally valid until you reach 70 years of age, but may be less if you have some particular medical conditions. After 70 years, you’ll need to renew your licence at least every 3 years.
The entitlement to drive a lorry or a bus is normally only given to people over 21 years of age, and needs to be renewed every 5 years until the age of 65. After you reach 65, you’ll need to renew your Group 2 licence every year. When you apply for a Group 2 licence, you’ll need to have an initial medical assessment, which will be repeated when you reach the age of 45. These are recorded on a D4 form.
If you drive a vehicle for the fire, police, coastguard, ambulance or health service, the Group 1 health standards generally apply, although individual forces or services can require a higher medical standard. The exception to this is drivers with insulin-treated diabetes who are recommended to not drive any emergency vehicles.
Taxi drivers should meet the same medical standards as Group 2 licence holders, although any a higher medical standards for taxi drivers can be asked for by Transport for London or the relevant Local Authority outside of London.
Driving is complicated: it requires you to use various skills and abilities to monitor your environment and control your vehicle at the same time; you need to be able to see, hear and move as well as use your memory, judgement, attention, coordination and be able to adapt quickly. Since there are so many skills and senses needed, it makes sense that many parts of your body need to be in good working order for you to drive safely – meaning that you are ‘fit to drive’. It also means that there are many medical conditions that can affect your ability to drive.
As a licence holder or applicant, it is your legal responsibility to:
GOV.UK have a list of conditions online that might affect your ability to drive – if you have or develop one of these conditions, you might need to contact the DVLA about it.
Your doctor or other healthcare professional must:
If you have a medical condition that has a high chance of causing you to have a sudden ‘disabling event’ whilst you are driving (such as epilepsy), or prevent you from having control of your vehicle for any reason, then you must not drive.
Generally, a decision cannot be made about your licence until all relevant medical information has been collected and considered. While the DVLA look through all the information, you’re likely to be allowed to keep your licence. During this time, it is your responsibility to be sure that you are fit to drive – if for any reason you do not feel that you can drive safely, then you should not get behind the wheel.
When you are telling the DVLA about a medical condition, the first part requires information from you by completing a questionnaire about the details of your condition (on paper or online). If necessary, you healthcare professional may then be contacted for more information about your condition (such as your doctor or optician). In some cases, an independent review of your condition may also be required or you may need to have your driving assessed.
Once the DVLA have made a decision about your driving licence, you’ll normally be contacted directly (your doctor or optician is not normally informed about a decision on your licence). In the case of a mental health condition (such as of cognitive impairment, dementia), which may affect a driver’s insight or memory about their licence being revoked or refused, their doctor will be contacted with the decision.
In Northern Ireland, you’ll need to contact the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). You can send you driving licence and covering letter with details of your condition by post, or you can contact the DVA by telephone or email with details of your condition as well as your driving licence (driver number, full name and date of birth) - you may be sent a questionnaire as well.
In England, Scotland and Wales, you should inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about changes to your medical condition. This is one of the many services provided by GOV.UK Verify, which will make the whole process much simpler and faster.
GOV.UK Verify is the new way for you to use Government services online, at anytime. It’s safe and secure, and means that government departments know that you are who you say you are when accessing your data. GOV.UK Verify has already been used for online Self Assessment and Personal Tax Accounts – and is now also available for updating your driving licence details, including your medical condition and renewing your medical driving licence.
To use Verify you’ll need to have your identity checked by a government certified identity provider – and luckily enough, that’s exactly was CitizenSafe does! In fact, it’s the only thing we do, which means that you’ll get an efficient and straightforward service from us.
The first step is to verifying your identity, which takes about 10 minutes (for all identity providers). During this step, you’ll register and then answer some questions that only you should know the answer to. After that, signing in will take seconds.