GPs May Soon Have to Report Signs of Dementia to the DVLA

Signs of Dementia and DVLA - Speedyreg
Signs of Dementia and DVLA – Speedyreg

Conservative MP Rachel Maclean is backing a Bill that calls for diagnosed dementia sufferers to retake their driving test. Currently, a third of people with dementia still drive a car which poses an issue for road safety. Currently, the system places the onus on the patient themselves. If you suffer from dementia, or any other medical condition that could adversely affect your driving ability, you are legally obliged to inform the DVLA. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £1000.

Dementia can severely affect ability to drive

Dementia affects different patients in different ways, but common symptoms are a lack of attention, a failure to concentrate, slow reactions, an inability to concentrate and a lack of spatial awareness. These are all very important aspects of driving safely. So you can see how suffering from dementia could lead to a dangerous situation on the roads.

Self reporting dementia is not a reliable system

The problem with the current system, is that it can be hard for individuals to judge their own ability to drive, or for many people, the need to drive makes them reluctant to report their medical conditions, for fear of having their license taken away, and therefore part of their independence. Of course in some cases, a patient may be unaware that they have dementia and so the system of self reporting easily falls down, both in these cases and in severe cases where a patient is unable to follow the process. These proposed new rules could have a benefit for families of dementia patients as often they have grave concerns that their relative is not fit to drive but cannot persuade them to give it up. In such cases, the families would only need the word of a GP to have their relative assessed and their minds put at ease.

Safety on the roads must be a priority

With a new regime, a GP would be legally obliged to inform the DVLA when a diagnosis of dementia has been made. The case would then be assessed for the patients fitness to drive and the GP could be able to insist that the patient takes a new driving test. The balance between patient confidentiality and the protection of the general public and indeed the patient themselves is a tricky one, but a new law could set down clear guidelines that will ensure that everyone on the road is safe to be there.