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In November road safety charity, Brake, welcomed the General Medical Council’s (GMC) strengthening of the guidelines to all doctors on reporting medically ‘unfit’ drivers to the DVLA. The GMC’s guidelines emphasised a doctor’s duty to disclose information to the DVLA or DVA (Northern Ireland) where the patient had failed to act.
There are many factors which can affect your driving to include alcohol, drugs, tiredness, mobile phones, eyesight, and age. Most of the time, sensible drivers will recognise they are unfit to drive and will act accordingly, but occasionally tell-tale signs can go unnoticed. Take a look below at some of the areas outlined by Trusted Dealers whereby you might not be fit to drive:
Any amount of alcohol intake will affect your ability to drive. Each person’s tolerance to alcohol is different and depends on various factors such as weight, gender and age. Therefore, there is no certain way you can remain under the driving limit if you drink, or of knowing how much you can drink and still drive safely. Therefore, it is recommended to not drink anything at all if you intend to drive and choose one of the many alternative safe ways to get home. And remember, some of the worst drink-driving incidents have occurred the following morning. Coffee and cold showers will not ensure you are sober after a heavy night out drinking – only time can effectively get the alcohol out of your system.
This may seem like an obvious one – don’t take drugs and drive. But there are some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications which prohibit people’s abilities to drive and can be just as dangerous as drink driving. Certain drugs when taken can lead to slower reaction times, poor concentration, sleepiness, distorted perception and overconfidence. In addition, the effects of ome drugs can be long-lasting. For more information on the 17 drugs, nine prescription drugs and eight illegal drugs that are illegal to have in your system when driving, click here. And remember, the limits for drug driving are low so you don’t have to have very much of a drug in your system to be over the limit.
Tiredness behind the wheel
Statistics reveal that as many as one crash in five on major roads may be caused from drowsiness. Tired drivers will often open a window or stick the radio on loud, but this may not be enough to prevent an accident. If you’re feeling tired behind the wheel, its advised to take a short break, If you’re driving a long distance, take at least a 15 minute break every 2 hours and don’t start a long trip feeling drowsy.
Mobile phone ban
Texting or browsing the internet on a mobile phone whilst driving is illegal. Despite Bluetooth technology making it easy for a driver to speak on a mobile phone hands-free, it is still a major distraction and can slow driver’s reaction times right down. In fact, drivers who are using a mobile phone are four times more likely to have an accident according to new research, and if the police see you driving poorly whilst using a phone you can be pulled over and prosecuted. The key is to avoid answering your mobile phone whilst driving – you can always return unanswered calls once you’ve parked up.
Check your eyesight
It is important to make sure you have regular eye tests as your eyesight can change without you even realising it. An optician can also spot the early signs of come medical conditions such a cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes, which can affect your fitness to drive.
There is no set legal age whereby a driver must stop driving, but it’s important to recognise whether this is something you are still able to do confidently or not. After you turn 70, you must renew your driving licence every three years. If you’re not sure you are up to driving, why not take an experience driver assessment to help you identify areas where you might need to improve your driving. For more information, click here.
There are a number of medical conditions whereby people who suffer from them are required to tell the DVLA. The list of conditions include epilepsy, cardiovascular conditions, neurological conditions, mental health conditions, serious mobility issues and visual impairments.
All drivers are strongly encouraged to declare any medical conditions that could prevent them from driving safely to the DVLA/DVA. Failure to do so could pose a continuing risk not only to themselves, but to other road users.