It is possible to drive whilst you have a medical condition, but you must follow the correct processes to ensure that you remain fit to drive.
Driving with a medical condition when you should not or are not fit to drive can result in penalties both for you as an individual, and if you drive for work the business which you are employed by.
What is a fitness to drive policy?
A clear, easy to understand fitness to drive policy which steps out when and why medical conditions need to be reported, can help mitigate the risks of medical conditions going unreported.
Why it is important to have a fitness to drive policy in place
It is important to put a separate fitness to drive policy in place. And to have a culture within your business which encourages employees who drive for work to self-report any health conditions which will impact their driving ability.
It is also vital that your distribute the policy to all staff, and train drivers as well as managers on the policy on a regular basis. It should be included when you induct new staff as well as a part of your regular training programme. Review your policy annually and update it when necessary, such as when new legislation or guidance is released by the DVLA or other bodies.
Also bear in mind the fact that some prescription drugs can impact on driving ability. In England and Wales it is illegal to drive with legal drugs in your body if they impair your driving, so you will need to ensure that drivers are also fully trained on your drug driving policy.
When must you report a medical condition to the DVLA?
All drivers must be medically fit to drive. Whether they drive for work or for personal reasons. If you hold a driving licence you must inform the DVLA if:
- You develop a notifiable medical condition
- A condition has worsened since you got your licence
There are a significant number of medical conditions which are reportable so if you are diagnosed with a condition you must check if you need to notify the DVLA. A full list of medical conditions with details about whether they are or are not reportable can be found on the government website.
In addition, you must surrender your driving licence to the DVLA in certain circumstances
- Your doctor tells you to stop driving for 3 months or more;
- You do not meet the required standards for driving because of your medical condition.
In addition to notifying the DVLA of any medical conditions or changes, drivers must ensure they are up to date with any medical checks that they are required to have. This is a particular requirement for HGV, bus and coach drivers and those who hold certain types of driving licence. Read our recent blog looking at the HGV driver medical for more information about this.
Do I need to notify the DVLA of an eyesight condition?
If an eyesight condition is included on the reportable list of medical conditions, then yes you will need to notify the DVLA about the condition.
Whilst you do not need to notify the DVLA if you are short or long sighted for example, you do need to ensure that you wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive to ensure you meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’. The simple number plate test can help you check your eyesight.
What are the personal consequences of driving with unreported medical conditions?
Not being aware that you had to report a medical condition is not considered a defence if you drive when you should not. It is your responsibility to report medical conditions or a change to your eyesight to the DVLA so you must have a firm understanding of what is and isn’t reportable.
If you are found to be driving with a medical condition which should have been reported the personal consequences can be significant.
- Fines – not telling the DVLA about a medical condition which affects your driving ability can be as much as £1,000
- Prosecution – if you are involved in an accident and a medical condition was the cause of the accident
- Invalid insurance – if you do not notify your insurer of a reportable medical condition this can invalidate your motor insurance policy
Driving when knowingly suffering from a medical condition which significantly impairs your driving skills is also consider a factor which indicates higher culpability in incidences of dangerous driving. Dangerous driving offences can lead to imprisonment and disqualification.
What are the corporate consequences of driving with an unreported medical condition?
The consequences for your business if someone that you employ is caught driving when they are not fit to are wide ranging.
The most serious offences (those resulting in injury or fatality) can result in:
- Imprisonment for responsible directors
- Unlimited fines
- Prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter or corporate manslaughter.
Other consequences can include damage to your brand reputation, potential business closure, and an impact on your ability to obtain insurance.
At Anthony Jones we work in association with DAC Beachcroft and are able to help you to understand how to draft and implement a fitness to drive policy for your business. We believe that an insurance broker should do more for your business than arrange your insurance, so we work with you to help improve your risk profile and put risk management measures in place. Talk to us today to see how we can help your business.