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Driving: Licensing

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has analysed on the number of (a) serious injuries and (b) fatalities resulting from accidents involving people driving who should not have held a driving licence due to their health or eyesight; and if he will make a statement. (233146)

There is no such specific research. However, the Department’s annual report “Road Casualties Great Britain” has since 2005 included information on factors that, in the opinion of the reporting officer, may have contributed to a crash. Included in the list of factors that can be reported are “uncorrected, defective eyesight” and “illness or disability, mental or physical”. The figures reported are:

Fatal accidents

Serious accidents

Slight accidents

All

Uncorrected, defective eyesight

2005

10

35

181

226

2006

4

47

158

209

2007

5

41

161

207

Illness or disability, mental or physical

2005

89

380

1316

1785

2006

75

393

1,379

1,847

2007

93

345

1,369

1,807

There is no information on how many of these cases involved drivers who should not have had a licence due to their health or eyesight.

We are currently reviewing the procedures by which health issues are addressed in the driver licensing system. However, all drivers have a duty to ensure they are fit to drive before doing so.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to suspend the licences of drivers suspected of causing death or serious injury due to health or eyesight problems until the completion of inquiries into or prosecution of such drivers. (233148)

Where DVLA receives sufficient evidence of a relevant disability the driving licence can be revoked immediately.

There are procedures in place for police forces to inform DVLA where they suspect that a driver is: suffering from a medical condition affecting their fitness to drive. This is not dependent on whether or not a decision is made to prosecute the driver for any related road traffic offence. Where sufficient evidence is not provided immediately, an investigation will be conducted and, if the individual is assessed as unfit to drive, the licence is revoked. There are currently no proposals to change this approach.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it a condition of holding a driving licence that a person consents to his medical records being released to the police in the event of an accident involving the licence-holder resulting in serious injury or fatality; and if he will make a statement. (233167)

The investigation of such accidents is a matter for the police. The introduction of such a condition on the licence is not currently judged to be either proportionate or appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require medical professionals to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency when a person has a medical condition affecting a person’s ability to drive. (233168)

While there is no legal obligation on doctors to notify DVLA, they do have a duty of care, not only to their patient but also to the general public. On this basis, they do have an obligation to report to DVLA instances where they consider a patient unfit to drive.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued guidelines to the effect that doctors should inform DVLA about unfit patients who they have advised should notify DVLA, but have failed to act on that advice.

There is no proposal to change this position.