Your employees’ fitness to drive can be affected by various factors, not only the obvious health conditions, but also the not so obvious such as stress and musculo-skeletal problems, for example back pain.
You might also find that the health condition in itself isn’t an issue when driving but the treatment provided can impair the ability to drive or concentration for driving, for example using certain medications for hayfever can cause drowsiness and the medication has a warning of not to drive or operate machinery. So in this instance it would be appropriate to find out if there is a non-drowsy alternative that can be used.
This principle can also be used for other health conditions and it is useful for your employee to ask either their GP or pharmacist if there is an alternative medicine that might be better when maintaining their concentration and ability to drive whilst at work.
There are also some medical conditions or disability, both physically and mentally, that are ‘notifiable’ under the driving standards enforced by the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This sets out the minimum medical standards and rules for drivers, including conditions that must be reported to the DVLA. It is also the duty of the license holder to inform the DVLA if their existing condition worsens.
If a doctor tells an employee to stop driving, this applies to driving work vehicles as well. If they are told to stop for 3 months or more then they must surrender their licence to DVLA. They can apply to get their licence back when they meet the medical standards for driving again.
When implementing your policy for driving at work it is good practice to not only consider the medical conditions that need reported to the DVLA, but also take a common sense approach to the other non-reportable health conditions, which may also affect you when driving, such as having the cold or a headache, and for your employee to be aware of when it is appropriate not to continue driving.
The DVLA has a comprehensive list of health conditions and disability, but as an employer or an employee there are other health conditions that you can consider, the list below is not exhaustive, or in any priority order, it is important to note that you should assess each individual and their health condition on a case by case basis:
There is a minimum standard that your eyesight must be to allow you to drive safely. If a driver needs to wear contact lenses or glasses to allow them to meet this criterion then they must wear them at all times when driving. The best way to ensure you meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving is to have an eyesight test at an opticians every 2 years, or more frequently if the optician advises you. Any condition that affects both eyes and vision (excluding long and short sightedness and colour blindness) should be reported to the DVLA. This will not necessarily mean an individual will lose their licence – an assessment is made in each individual case. Eyesight can deteriorate gradually over time, and so many drivers may not realise it has fallen below the minimum standard. For more detail about the Driving Eyesight Rules follow this link www.gov.uk/driving-eyesight-rules
Being someone who suffers from migraine does not on its own prevent you from driving. The condition does not create any safety concerns, unless you drive during a migraine attack or whilst taking medications that affect your ability to drive safely. The symptoms of migraine can cause complete impairment. Some sufferers experience visual disturbances, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms, and / or the side effects of the medication to treat the migraine could make you vulnerable to driving errors and place you and others at risk of accidents and injury. Link to https://www.migrainetrust.org/
Musculo-skeletal, including back pain, neck stiffness or lower/upper limb problems can reduce your physical capacity whilst driving, such as the ability to operate the controls, turn your head or carry out an emergency stop. Driving for long periods of time can also exacerbate any existing musculo-skeletal condition. It is important that if you are having to drive when you have symptoms that you are safe to do so and can carry out the range of movements you need to enable you to drive safely for the driver, other road users and pedestrians. As with any medication prescribed or purchased ‘over the counter’ check if there is a risk of side effects which may compromise the driver.
There are many symptoms associated with stress including poor concentration; poor sleep patterns and tiredness. Add to this driving during peak rush hour or after a long meeting and stress levels increase with the potential of panic attacks occurring. When considering the drive you need to do during work time think of how you can minimise the risk of a ‘stressful’ journey. Simple things like allowing extra time for the journey or checking the travel and traffic news before you leave can make all the difference. It is also important to ensure that your mobile phone is on silent or on hands free mode so you don’t become anxious about trying to answer a call when driving.
If suffering from a heavy cold or flu, the symptoms (headache, blocked sinuses, sneezing and tiredness) can impair a driver’s mood, concentration, reactions and judgement. It is not just the effects of the illness but also the medication to treat the symptoms that can impair your fitness to drive. Concentration, perception and reaction times can be affected by some prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Some over the counter treatments for coughs, colds and the flu may cause drowsiness.
Although pregnancy is not a form of ill health and should never be regarded as such, it is important that women who are pregnant wear their seat belt correctly. Pregnancy does not exempt women from the requirement to wear a seatbelt. A doctor will only issue a ‘Certificate of Exemption ’if there is a medical reason for not using a seatbelt. The diagonal strap should be between the breasts, over the breastbone, resting on the shoulder, not the neck. The lap belt should be placed on the thighs, fitting beneath the abdomen and over the pelvis, not the bump. The belt should be worn as tightly as possible. Pregnant women should never wear lap only belts. As the pregnancy progresses, the driver’s position in relation to the steering wheel and airbag should be considered. The driver should sit as far back as possible, while ensuring she can still easily reach and operate all the controls.
A risk assessment during pregnancy in consultation with the employee, may determine that it is best to alter some job tasks and driving may be an activity that is adjusted as the pregnancy progresses.
Having a mental illness does not always mean you cannot drive safely. But some drivers need to take extra care or may become too unwell to drive which may be due to the health condition or their medication or a combination of both. Certain mental health conditions must be reported to the DVLA and are included in their list of ‘notifiable’ health conditions. There are also some which you only need to report if they affect your ability to drive, these include severe depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder if they are prolonged with significant memory and concentration problems, agitation, behavioural disturbance or suicidal thoughts.
Such as hayfever: Symptoms of allergies can include some common traits including itchy eyes, runny nose and headaches, which may during peak allergy season, affect your ability to drive. Treatment may also cause impairment if the medication causes drowsiness.
Having diabetes does not mean you cannot drive a car or a motorbike but if you drive as part of your job role and have, or have been recently diagnosed with diabetes you may worry that you are not safe to be driving. Whether you are treated with insulin, tablets or diet alone, and depending on which class of vehicle you drive, then a different set of factors may apply to allow you to continue to drive and it is important that you check these before continuing to drive. However you do have a legal requirement to inform your insurance provider that you have diabetes, and you also need to make the DVLA aware that you have diabetes depending on which type you have and how it is controlled. It is also important to keep up to date with any changes relating to driving with diabetes - https://www.gov.uk/diabetes-driving your GP, consultant or Practice nurse may also be able to offer advice.
The law changed in September 2011 to allow drivers who control diabetes through insulin to reapply for their licence as research showed that they present no greater risk of causing accidents than the rest of the population. Strict monitoring is required and applicants with insulin-treated diabetes need to have used a blood glucose metre with a memory function to measure and record blood glucose levels for at least three months before submitting their application.
Most people who have been diagnosed with a heart condition will be able to continue to drive or drive again, but it can depend on the type of heart condition you have. The DVLA provides the national guidelines on being fit to drive, as well as how soon you can return to driving following a new diagnosis or treatment of a heart condition. Your GP can also offer you advice and guidance.
You also have a legal requirement to inform your insurance provider about your heart condition, and any changes in your health condition, including any treatment you have had. https://www.gov.uk/cardiac-problems-driving https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cardiovascular-disorders-assessing-fitness-to-drive
Many people have pain relating to a health condition at some point. This may be permanent or temporary and the condition may or may not be notifiable to the DVLA. Driving whilst in any sort of pain can impact upon your driver's concentration and may also impact on their ability to do other activities such as deliveries or other work activity. The issue here may also be the types of pain relief that has been prescribed or purchased over the counter. The condition in itself may not be an issue when driving but the treatment provided can impair the ability to drive or concentration for driving, for example using certain medications can cause drowsiness. Some medication has a warning of not to drive or operate machinery. So in this instance it would be appropriate to find out if there is a non-drowsy alternative that can be used.
Your driver should ask either their GP or pharmacist if there is an alternative medicine that might be better when maintaining their concentration and ability to drive whilst at work. If this is likely to be an issue then the employee and employer should discuss the situation.
Having a good knowledge of the traffic laws and having good driving skills is not enough to be a good driver; you will need to be physically and mentally healthy in order to be able to drive safely.
One of the problems that those who are ‘professional’ drivers or those who spend a lot of time on the road for work encounter, is poor diet. This may be due to a combination of fast food and fatty easy and quick to eat snacks and sugary drinks.
So encouraging a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating is an approach that can reap dividends.
Promoting good physical and emotional health can be done in a number of ways to help foster higher levels of wellbeing amongst drivers. Subsidised (or even free) gym memberships, for example, can help incentivise drivers to improve their aerobic health – especially as UK government guidelines say “adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods” and that they should undertake activity of moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes every week.
Not the first thing that you would consider a risk when driving as part of your job role, but it is something to be aware of. ‘Road rage’ from other road users is a well know term but also consider what you are transporting within your vehicle and could you be at risk of violence and theft. Personal safety is an important issue and should be taken into consideration when planning your route and also your breaks. Consequently drivers can find themselves alone in lay-bys or industrial estates, leaving them vulnerable. The effects of violence and aggression, which can include verbal aggression, threats, intimidation and harassment - can be damaging to the victim both physically and psychologically. It can also lead to low morale, high absenteeism, and a decrease in productivity. You can get more information via http://www.suzylamplugh.org/ or at
Having epilepsy does not mean your driver cannot drive. In the UK if seizures are controlled (for over a year) or meet specific criteria, then the driver should be able to apply for some types of licence.
However it is important that this is checked with the DVLA. A doctor may also inform the DVLA, and although they have a duty to protect their patients’ confidentiality, over and above this they have a duty of care to protect the public. Drivers also have a legal duty to inform your insurance provider that you have epilepsy. https://www.gov.uk/epilepsy-and-driving
Most people with an MS diagnosis can continue to drive but there are some things to be considered. Everyone’s experience of MS is different and symptoms can vary from person to person. Therefore the driver needs to inform the DVLA of their diagnosis and they will then assess fitness to drive using this information or by asking to have a medical examination or a driving assessment. It may be that adaptations to the vehicle are required to allow the driver to continue to drive, if this is the case the adaptations will be specified on their license and the driver won’t be able to drive without them.
The driver also has a legal requirement to inform their insurance provider that they have MS and if their vehicle has any adaptations to allow them to drive. Any worsening of MS must be divulged to both the insurance provider and the DVLA. If driving a work vehicle this requirement for adaptations and informing the insurers and DVLA still applies.