Driving and your health: what to be aware of

Because driving requires concentration and a certain level of basic fitness, it’s extremely important for all drivers to be aware of the relationship between driving and your health. Certain medical conditions preclude anyone from even getting behind a wheel, so you should have a clear idea of what is expected from you before you drive.

Driving and your health: conditions that prevent driving

The most obvious factor to flag up a conflict between driving and your health would be if your doctor had advised against it. There could be any number of reasons for this. In some situations you might have been prescribed a course of medication that has side effects such as drowsiness. Obviously this would impair your judgement, particularly in situations where you are required to operate controls quickly and safely.

It could be that you’ve suffered a minor accident and are either in pain or suffering joint or muscle weakness, or are relying on splints or similar supports. Similarly, if you’ve recently undergone surgery, such as hip or knee replacements, then your doctor will have a clear idea about the length of time that should lapse before you are considered proficient enough to drive again.

So much of your driving skills are dependent on neck and upper body movements – steering, reacting to what’s happening outside – that any sort of injury here will have an effect.

We all know the first hurdle we have to pass in our driving test – reading a registration plate accurately at 20 metres. This is because your visual fields must meet minimum requirements. If you are in any doubt at all about your eyesight, apply for a free test at your local optician.

Other health factors affecting driving

Any medical condition giving rise to fainting or blackouts is an obvious concern. Heart disease, epilepsy and diabetes are also on the danger list, along with psychiatric or neurological disorders. The important point to note regarding driving and your health is that issues don’t necessarily pre-empt you driving – but your doctor will be able to advise what restrictions might apply.

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