How does your health impact your driving and riding?

Blog post posted on 15/08/22 |

Alcohol and drugs aren’t the only things that can impair driving and riding abilities. There are many medical conditions that can make it difficult or dangerous, ranging from eye and vision problems to cognitive conditions that might affect judgement and reactions.

Rebecca Ashton, Head of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, has had a look at some of the more common conditions that can affect drivers and riders, side effects bought on by medication and how you may approach someone if you’re worried about their driving.

What medical conditions affect your driving?

Many might think of older people when we consider people who aren’t fit to drive or ride based on medical grounds, however there are many long-term conditions that could affect your driving or riding and these should be declared to the Driver Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA). 

There are many medical problems that can affect your ability to drive safely – both temporary and permanent. Failing eyesight, post operation recovery, poor balance or coordination, issues with memory or concentration, lack of strength or control, and mental health conditions – all of these can impact your safety on the road. If you’d like to check if a health condition affects your driving, then visit GOV.UK by clicking here.

How do I reapply for a driving licence after declaring a medical condition?

After you notify the DVLA about a medical condition they will assess the situation and decide if:

  • You need to get a new driving licence
  • You can have a shorter licence – for 1, 2, 3 or 5 years
  • You need to adapt your car by fitting special controls
  • You must stop driving and give up your licence.

Once you’ve been notified of the decision you can appeal if you contact your local magistrate’s court within six months or in Scotland, your local sheriff’s court, within 21 days.

If you need to renew a shorter licence, you’ll receive a letter from the DVLA 90 days before it’s due to expire, and you can renew online or via post.

If you gave up your licence because of a medical condition, you’ll need to see a doctor before reapplying for your licence to check that you’re fit enough to drive.

Do I qualify for a Blue Badge?

Your health condition may entitle you to get a Blue Badge which is designed to help people with mobility problems or health conditions park closer to their destination. You can apply for a badge for yourself, on behalf of somebody else, or an organisation that transports people that need a Blue Badge. To find out more then please click here.

How can I talk to someone about their driving ability?

If you feel someone you know should not be driving or riding due to their ability affecting their safety, or they’re putting other people at risk, then you have a responsibility to talk to them about it. Ultimately, it’s up to them, or the DVLA to decide if surrendering their driving licence on medical grounds is necessary. 

It can be a very difficult conversation to have with someone so approach it sensitively, and it’s helpful if you do some research beforehand, that way you can offer solutions to help whoever you are talking to remain independent and keep doing the things they enjoy. Whether that’s finding public or community transport options, car adaptations, or even a driver assessment like IAM RoadSmart’s Mature Driver Review – they might be grateful you’ve broached the conversation with them. Remember, it’s not about taking away anyone’s driving licence, it’s about keeping our loved ones safe on the road whichever means of transport they use. 

There’s no set age to legally stop driving, however, when someone turns 70 they need to renew their driving licence with the DVLA every 3 years, it can be done online up to 90 days before your 70th birthday and tends to take around a week for your licence to arrive.

Rebecca Ashton said: “If you or someone you know has a driving licence and develops a medical condition or disability, or the condition has worsened since getting your licence, then the DVLA should be notified. Failing to declare medical conditions that affect your driving to the DVLA could result in being fined up to £1,000 – and you could invalidate your insurance too.

“It’s important to remember that health conditions aren’t always physical, some mental health symptoms and medications might also affect your driving. Anyone who is getting behind the wheel should think carefully about whether they’re fit to drive or ride, and it’s worth noting that declaring your licence to the DVLA doesn’t have to be permanent. If you decide to stop driving on medical grounds but later believe you’re fit to drive, your licence can be reinstated once you meet the medical standards of fitness to drive again.”

To find out more about IAM RoadSmart and the courses available, click here.


Tell DVLA about a medical condition or disability:

Check if a health condition affects your driving: