New research suggests non-disclosure of medical conditions that could affect driving ability
New research released by Direct Line suggests that up to one million older drivers are failing to disclose medical conditions to the DVLA, with most citing their belief that their condition does not affect their driving as the reason for non-disclosure.
Direct Line’s research suggests that three in ten motorists over the age of 65 have a notifiable medical condition such as eyesight problems, heath problems, epilepsy and diabetes however almost half fail to inform the DVLA.
The problem is not restricted to the older generation; in fact almost a tenth of all UK motorists are thought to be on our roads despite failing to disclose a relevant condition.
Gus Park, Director of Motor at Direct Line said: “Regardless of age, drivers that have a notifiable or worsening medical condition or disability must disclose this to the DVLA and also to their insurer to stay within the law.”
He continued: “Even those who feel their physical status won’t affect their driving must still disclose their condition, as failing to do so means they risk a hefty fine and even prosecution if they have an accident.”
Why drivers don't disclose
The research by Direct Line came up with the following results for why people fail to disclose medical conditions:
“Unaware of this obligation”
According to the research, 12% of older drivers said that they were unaware of this obligation.
At first, this seems impossible; surely it’s obvious to someone with a condition such as epilepsy that they would need to declare it to the DVLA? But what about less obvious conditions?
The list of potentially notifiable conditions is surprisingly large, and covers an array of apparently less serious conditions, such as “giddiness”.
So it’s well within reason that motorists, regardless of age, could be driving around unaware of their obligation to report.
“Didn’t feel their condition affects their driving”
This reason accounted for 57% of the responses. This is a slightly less forgivable response.
A notifiable condition is such because of the potential impact that the condition might have on a person’s ability to control their vehicle.
The DVLA devised the list of notifiable conditions on the basis of medical evidence, and the requirements to notify are in place for the safety of the driver and the general public whose lives could be in danger if a person drives whilst unfit.
Whilst we are all the best experts when it comes to our own bodies, a requirement to notify the DVLA of any deemed relevant condition has to be the best safety net to ensure that the personal opinion of the driver regarding his fitness to drive matches that of a medical professional where necessary.
This response accounted for 27% of the research.
Common sense would suggest that “other” might well be another way of admitting that the condition was not reported because the motorist was concerned about losing their driving licence, or concerned about potential increases in their insurance premium.
Consequences of failing to declare
Firstly, the most obvious, and serious potential consequence of failing to report a medical condition is the possibility that the driver could cause serious harm to themselves and others if they have an accident.
With conditions that impair a person’s ability to see or maintain consciousness in mind, the consequences could be fatal if the condition flared up whilst driving.
Failing to notify the DVLA of a relevant medical condition is a criminal offence for which a person could, in theory, be brought before a Court and Prosecuted.
A person who fails to report a notifiable condition is liable to a fine of up to £1000.
A person who then drives after failing to report the condition would face 3 -6 penalty points on their driving licence in addition to the fine.
There are two exceptions to where a person would be guilty of the offence under the legislation.
- Where the person has not previously suffered from the condition and has reasonable grounds for believing that the condition will not last longer than three months; or
- Where the person has a reasonable excuse for failing to notify the DVLA of the condition.
Although there is a clear legal basis for prosecuting motorists who fail to disclose medical conditions, little is known about the numbers of motorists who are actually brought before a Court for this offence.
I suspect the number of prosecutions is extraordinarily low. How would the offending motorists be detected?
With all the under-resourcing, police have a hard enough time spotting offences which they can actually see; motorists who use a mobile phone whilst driving are prime examples of this.
Or perhaps it’s because by the time the condition rears its head to a point capable of detection during driving, the defendant is no longer alive to be brought before the Court.
It’s certainly worth thinking about.
A list of potentially notifiable conditions can be found on the Government’s website.
Article written by Specialist Motoring Law Solicitor Alison Ashworth; Director of Ashworth Motoring Law Ltd. If you would like more information or to contact Ashworth Motoring Law Ltd regarding any motoring offence, call 0330 33 22 770, email email@example.com.