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Do Older Drivers Always Notify DVLA of their Medical Conditions?

Do Older Drivers Always Notify DVLA of their Medical Conditions?

Although many of us don’t want to think about it, we are all getting a little bit older and as the years pass by and our bodies slowly stop performing quite as well as they did in our 20’s.  Are our bodies gradual decline making us a danger on the road? And would we tell anybody if we thought they were?

Currently in the UK there is no legal age at which you must give up your driving licence.  When a driver reaches the age of 70 they will need to renew their licence.  It is up to the driver to disclose any medical condition that the DVLA deem as notifiable due to the possibility of driving competence being affected.  They will then need to renew their licence every 3 years.  This never involves resitting a driving test or a driving assessment of any kind.  But how many older drivers actually do disclose notifiable medical conditions to the DLVA?

Direct Line conducted a survey involving drivers over the age of 65.  Of 506 respondents 28% reported having a medical condition that they should make the DVLA aware of.  Of this 28% only 51% had actually reported their condition.  In the entire population of the UK there are 7.6 million drivers 65 years old and over.  If statistics found by Direct Line are applied to all drivers over 65 it equates to 2.1 million drivers with a notifiable condition and approximately 1 million of those who have not informed the DVLA.

The main reason given by 57% of drivers involved in Direct Line’s survey for not notifying the DVLA of their condition was that they felt their medical condition did not interfere with their ability to drive safely in any way. 1 in 8 drivers didn’t realise they had a duty to report a medical condition and 27% cited other reasons for their failure to disclose their condition to the DVLA.

When considering the impact no longer being able to drive would have on many older people it is easy to appreciate why there is a reluctance to risk losing a driving licence.  It could limit the ability of older people to socialise, collect shopping and could lead to isolation.  However, if it is discovered a notifiable condition has not been disclosed to the DVLA the driver could face a fine of £1000 and could be prosecuted in the event of an accident.

The most common medical conditions that need to be reported to the DVLA relate to eye problems, heart conditions, physical disabilities, neurological or mental health conditions, epilepsy and strokes.  The full list of conditions can be found here

The table below shows the percentage of the population over 65 that are affected by these conditions. 

Notifiable ConditionPercentage of those over 65 who have it
Physical disability11
Heart condition6
Suffered from stroke/mini stroke3
Diabetes that is controlled with insulin2
Any form of visual impairment1

Failure to report medical conditions is not limited to those over the age of 65 though.  Across the whole population of the UK 25% of drivers have a notifiable condition, but 1 in 10 have not disclosed this to the DVLA.

When you report a condition, the DVLA will often allow you to continue driving until a decision has been made which normally takes 6 weeks.  DVLA may want to speak to your doctor, arrange an examination for you, arrange a driving assessment or test for you, or even ask you to have your eyesight tested to help inform their decision.

The decision of the DVLA may not always be to take away your driving licence as many people fear, they could;

  • Recommend no change to your licence so you can renew your licence in the normal way
  • Provide you with a shorter licence for 1, 2 or 3 years with a review at the end of this time period
  • Recommend you have adaptations made to your car so you can continue driving safely
  • Recommend you are not safe to be driving anymore and so your licence will no longer be valid 

Some people believe all drivers of a certain age should face another driving test, others believe doctors should have more authority to tell people to stop driving – What do you think?  Would you tell a family member to stop driving?  Or report their medical condition to DVLA if they had failed to do so themselves?

The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.

Car related news
13 April 2016
Written by Natalie Faughy
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