You often hear the phrase that driving is a privilege, not a right, and for 100s of thousands of UK motorists, that privilege has been revoked.

Latest research shows that just last year alone, nearly 12,000 new drivers lost their licence under the New Driver Act, and in 2019 (up to July), 42,500 drivers lost their licence on medical grounds; over the last six years, 363,280 licences have been revoked through medical conditions.

Surprisingly, the number one cause for medical loss of a driving licence isn’t down to poor eyesight (that comes in at third place on the list – 12.5%), but alcoholism (15%), closely followed seizures & blackouts (14.9%).

Tip of the iceberg

The DVLA website lists almost 200 different conditions that you should self-declare, from ‘Absence seizures’ through to ‘Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome’, and failure to do so could lead to a £1,000 fine.

With that said, some of the conditions seem impractical to self-declare – low blood sugar, sleepiness and even déjà vu, and some seem … like they were written in the 70s; you need to self-declare a hysterectomy, or caesarean section (and they’re listed separately to ‘Surgery’, the assumption being that they’re not talking recent).

Alex Buttle from Motorway.co.uk (that carried out the research into medical rescindments) thinks that these figures are the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as many motorists don’t self-declare some medical issues.

“You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell the DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving, but is that really a strong enough deterrent?”

“With so many of us reliant on our cars for work and pleasure, there will be drivers on the road who think it’s worth the risk to keep quiet because handing in their driving licence could mean losing their mobility, their job and not seeing their family and friends.”

New drivers

With (on average) 33 new drivers per day losing their licence under the New Driver Act, in which racking up six or more penalty points within two-years of passing their test means an automatic licence rescindment, the road charity Brake believe that a Graduated Driving Licence (GDL) must be introduced.

On the face of it, a graduated licence could make sense – any 17-year-old with enough money could (in theory) learn to drive, pass their test and jump straight in to a 700+hp supercar without any further training or education, but that’s not what Brake are calling for.

Brake believe that a prolonged, 12-month mandatory leaner period, followed by a 2-year novice driver period in which hours (time of the day) are restricted, along with numbers of passengers carried is the sensible way forward. The argument being that the 17 – 24 age group account for nearly one-fifth of all seriously injured or killed on the roads, despite them making up just 7% of all licence holders.

If you ride a motorcycle, you’ll be aware that there are graduated licences (that restrict horsepower and engine capacity), and even before you get anywhere near a road, you have to undertake a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course, but no such thing exists for cars.

It could be argued that learning to drive has never been easier – certain elements have been removed from the test, to be replaced with tasks such as checking the screenwash fluid, and of course, new technology means that testing dexterity (like a hill-start) is also a thing of the past.

Don’t fall foul of self-declaration

In many cases, drivers believe that they’re fit to drive, even with slight medical issues.

To be on the safe side, you should check whether your illness should or could be declared by you – you could face a £1,000 fine, be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result of the problem, and in some cases, your insurance could be invalid if caught driving with a known medical problem.

If you do find yourself in the position of having your licence removed, all is not lost; you can reapply for a driving licence once your doctor agrees that you meet the medical standards. Voluntarily surrendering your licence is slightly different: you can still drive while you renew the licence if you have the support of your doctor, a valid licence, that you only drive under the conditions of the previous licence, that you haven’t been disqualified or your licence revoked and the application is less than 12-months old.

Have you ever had your licence revoked on medical grounds? How easy was it to replace? Do you think the New Driver Act is beneficial to road safety? Let us know in the comments.

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