Health and driving

The Health and driving - Safe driving depends in part on the health of the vehicle’s driver. Any state or medical disorder that affects a driver’s physical condition, or impairs mental faculties such as judgment, alertness, or speed of reaction, increases the risk of injury to the driver and also to other road users and pedestrians.

One of the most obvious hazards is being under the influence of alcohol. There are strict laws regarding the maximum blood alcohol level allowed, because alcohol is known to impair judgment and to slow reaction times. Illicit drugs (see drug abuse) have a similarly harmful effect. Some prescribed drugs can also affect ability to drive; for example, some antihistamines (used to treat disorders such as hay fever) can cause drowsiness. The combination of drugs and alcohol is more potent than either used alone. Other states that can be hazardous include fatigue and any type of stress reaction such as anger and anxiety. Driving when tired is one of the most common causes of road accidents.

Impaired vision obviously affects a person’s fitness to drive. Various other health problems should be disclosed to the driver’s vehicle licensing authority, and in some cases may preclude driving for a period of time. Drivers who have diabetes mellitus must inform their vehicle licensing authority as well as their insurance company if they begin insulin therapy. Careful monitoring of blood sugar levels is of vital importance, because abnormally high or low levels may impair the person’s judgment or cause loss of consciousness. People who have had a stroke, or who have had a pacemaker fitted, may also be subject to driving restrictions. Stricter regulations are in place for certain groups of drivers, for example people with epilepsy.

Regardless of the medical condition, it is extremely important that the patient contacts the vehicle licensing authority for advice on fitness to drive if there is the least cause for concern.


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