Were you aware that there are many health conditions that affect your ability to drive? Often pre-existing health conditions are known to affect driving ability when you first start to learn to drive. These could include severe visual impairment or epilepsy. As you age other health conditions may become apparent and it is your job to notify the appropriate driving authorities, which is the DVLA if you normally reside in the UK.

It is a well known fact that alcohol and drugs can severely affect your ability to drive. Your sense of judgement becomes impaired and you are likely to make rash decisions. Reaction times become much slower and attentiveness to surroundings become clouded. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is potentially lethal to both the driver, passengers and other road users. Frighteningly it is estimated that 32% of fatal crashes involve someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is likely that a car accident lawyer will be involved in a large number of cases featuring accidents caused by drivers under the influence.

There are numerous health conditions that can cause similar impairment to driving as being under the influence of alcohol can. This article aims to highlight notifiable health conditions.

Eye conditions

Cataracts

Cataracts are extremely common in the aging population. They occur when the lens in the eye becomes opaque. Cataracts creep up slowly on you and isn’t normally a condition that occurs overnight unless eye trauma occurs. It is important to visit your eye practitioner for regular checkups, so that they can diagnose them at the earliest opportunity. Cataracts affect your ability to drive because they cause your vision to blur, eventually becoming opaque. Night vision can become particularly difficult due to glare and haze from headlights. Cataracts normally affect both eyes eventually, but can easily be rectified by surgery. As cataracts are common the time waiting for surgery can be long, it is important to not drive during this waiting period.  

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure in the eye increases to such an extent that the optic nerve at the back of the eye becomes compressed and damaged. Your optic nerve is what enables you to see. Initially vision loss is at the peripheral of your vision, sometimes it is referred to as tunnel vision. This is extremely detrimental to driving safely as your ability to see obstacles, traffic, foot pedestrians and signposts will become extremely limited. Eventually if not treated glaucoma causes blindness. Glaucoma affects more than 2.5 million people over the age of 40. Glaucoma can be managed by drugs and eye medication. Surgery can be performed on patients who do not respond well to drug therapy.

Macular degeneration

Unfortunately macular degeneration is at present incurable. The retina of the eye begins to degenerate with age and can cause hazy vision and blind spots. If your eyes are suffering from macular degeneration the condition will worsen over time. As the condition is incurable, driving is unsafe.

Mobility restrictions

The ability to drive a car without restrictions and impairments to your mobility is important for safe driving. Movement is used constantly during driving such as turning the steering wheel, operating pedals, turning to view what is behind you or to the side of you. Many health conditions cause restrictions to mobility. Additionally following major surgery you shouldn’t drive for a specified number of weeks, due to your body’s inability to make emergency stops during the healing period.

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Emily Muelford

Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.

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