Sick Drivers

1 in 5 know someone who's driven with a medical condition

20 January 2010

Almost a fifth of AA members (19%) know someone who has driven while suffering from a medical condition knowing they should not have driven, according to new research from the AA revealed today at the ACPO/Police Federation conference.

Yet just 2% of AA members admit that they themselves have driven when suffering from a medical condition when they knew they should not have been driving. These findings from an online AA/Populus poll of 20,109 AA members will be presented by Edmund King, AA President to a police conference debate on medical standards for drivers.

King will tell the conference that despite the fact that a significant number of drivers are driving whilst medically unfit, the fittest drivers (the young) are still the most dangerous on the road.

Middle-aged drivers are the safest and although there is an increase in fatalities per million miles travelled for those aged over 60 this may be due to frailty rather than dangerous driving.

King also addresses the process that drivers should follow to inform the DVLA that they are medically unfit to drive but questions how effective it is that all drivers will volunteer to lose their licence by always informing DVLA.

Even those that lose their licence do not always stop driving. In Great Britain 166,000 drivers were disqualified from driving last year by the courts but 37,000 people were convicted for driving while disqualified.

Fitness to drive

A report published last week for the Department for Transport on 'Fitness to drive'1 found that:

  • Only one third of drivers who should have been given advice on fitness to drive received it from a healthcare professional without having to ask for it
  • Three-quarters of patients were not advised correctly regarding the DVLA rules for their medical condition
  • Most patients think they should be given advice on fitness to drive

A previous report by the same author found that teaching on 'Fitness to drive' is inconsistent across UK medical schools. Many new doctors will graduate with limited knowledge of medical aspects of fitness to drive.

Businesses should run checks on employees

The AA President stressed that more businesses should ensure that their company carries out DVLA driving licence checks on employees who drive for business. A recent DVLA check carried out last week by AA DriveTech for a high profile blue-chip company flushed out six drivers who do not hold a valid driving licence.

  • 5 drivers had their licence revoked (one medical reasons, others for not notifying the DVLA of a change of address
  • 1 driver had a live drink/drive offence
  • 1 employee has been driving illegally since early March 2006
  • All the drivers were employed by the same company and only a small proportion of employees were checked in this pilot


Edmund King, AA President, said: "The AA/Populus survey results suggest that up to six million drivers may drive when they know they shouldn't for medical reasons. Drivers need to be aware of the risks that they are taking and the consequences of getting caught.

"The research for government also illustrates that much more needs to be done by the healthcare profession in terms of advising patients correctly when they should not drive.

"Employees need to be more vigilant in checking driving licences and carrying out DVLA checks on staff that may have had licences revoked for medical reasons or they might be liable."


1 "The attitudes of healthcare professionals to giving advice on fitness to drive" by Dr Carol Hawley, published by DFT as Road Safety Research Report 91 on 13 January 2010

Populus interviewed 20,109 AA members online between January 12 -15 2010

ACPO/Police Federation conference National Roads Policing takes place 20-21 January 2010, Hinckley Island hotel, Leicestershire

Join the discussion in the AA zone


20 January 2010