Driving assessments are sometimes required to establish if a driver is safe to continue driving. For example, following an illness such as a stroke or brain injury following an accident. Driving assessments can also be used to help identify suitable vehicle adaptations ranging from cushions which help posture, to hand controls, left foot accelerators and electronic systems which control speed and direction.
Some medical conditions must be notified to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Assessing a driver’s fitness to drive is a complex and specialist area which I do not consider myself to be qualified in and have no experience of. However, there are organisations who specialise in making these assessments and have highly skilled staff trained to make accurate and objective assessments. Within some of these organisations driving assessors work closely with occupational therapists. For example, at the Queen Elizabeth’s foundation for disabled peopled, drivers are assessed on an off road track before being taken on road. Their reaction times, coordination, ability to apply brake pressure and peripheral vision are also tested using a computer mock up of a car. An occupational therapist is also involved in the assessment and can provide advice about the most suitable adaptations for the client.
I can however, help you to support your disabled drivers by helping to guide you through the types of adaptations that are available. I can also help you to make your driving for work polices more disability friendly and rise your awareness of how you can support all of your drivers.
I provide on road driver risk assessments. I do not provide driving assessments.
What is the difference between a risk assessment and a driving assessment?
At its most basic, a risk assessment looks at the potential level of risk your driver poses to themselves and other road users. The risk assessment will assess if the driver has the skills and ability to drive safely. For example, do they follow the highway code, can they deal safely with other road users, turn left and right, use roundabouts, overtake safely, can they monitor and prioritise hazards effectively, do they speed and so on. A risk assessment will also consider behavioural factors such as driver aggression, how they react to other road users, deal with conflict, driver excitement and risk taking, managing fatigue, use of mobile phones, distractions and so on.
A driving assessment considers if a driver is safe to continue driving, would benefit from further training or vehicle adaptations following illness or injury. For example, following a stroke, does the driver have quick enough reactions to effectively manage hazards, is their vision to the required standard, can they co-ordinate controls, have they got acceptable spacial awareness, are they able to press a foot brake pedal with enough force to operate the brake or can they turn a steering wheel briskly enough to steer away from danger or would they benefit from hand controls or lighter steering.
As an employer you need to be aware of your responsibilities when an employee returns to work after an illness or an injury which could affect their ability to drive safely.
What policies and procedures have you got in place to make sure your drivers and your organisation have fulfilled their obligations? For example, do you know that some diabetics using insulin may have additional obligations they have to fulfil such as notifying the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Have you considered reading the DVLA assessing fitness to drive document for further information. Assessing Fitness to Drive: Guide for medical professionals
What questions do you ask your drivers when they return to work from serious illness or injury to make sure they are still legally able to drive? For example, how would you know if they are required to attend a driving test centre to be formally assessed by a DVLA driving examiner? How would you know if they have been referred for an assessment at one of the regional driving assessment centres and may have had a provisional disability assessment driving licence issued to them with a code 121?
Do you complete driving licence checks using DVLA records?
How would you know if your driver still has a valid driving licence or if it has been medically revoked?
What checks and procedures have you got in place to manage this?
What additional support are you providing for your drivers who may have a disability?
I will not provide specific advice about a person’s medical fitness to drive due to the complexity of this subject.
Make sure that who ever you ask for guidance is actually qualified to provide that guidance. A good starting point would be your local driver assessment centre.
Useful links for more information about driving assessments and available support. These links are provided for reference only and as a starting point. It is your responsibility to make sure the advice you obtain is accurate. I do not recommend or warrant any provider.