Often, after a serious or life-changing injury, a person’s ability to drive can be affected. Driving requires many different skills, including both cognitive and physical abilities and coordination, and a serious injury can impair your skills and your ability to drive.
Before you decide to get back behind the wheel, you must discuss this with your doctor. They will be able to assess whether you are well enough and reach the fitness criteria to be able to return to driving straight away, or if you should stop driving for a while. They will also advise you if you should let the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) know about any of your conditions, or whether it is necessary to undertake a driving assessment.
An Occupational Therapist may also be able to provide you with practical advice, as well as suggesting activities to improve your physical and cognitive abilities to help you to return to driving.
Notifying the DVLA about your injuries
If your doctor does not believe you are fit to drive, you should notify the DVLA and voluntarily surrender your driving licence. It is your responsibility to let the DVLA know about any issues you have, and not your doctor’s. If you fail to let the DVLA know, you could be fined up to £1,000, and if you are involved in an accident, you may be prosecuted, and your insurance invalidated.
You can contact the DVLA to notify them by:
- Calling them on 0870 600 0301
- By emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or by writing to them at DVLA, Drivers Medical Unit, Swansea, SA99 1TU
You should provide the DVLA with the following information:
- Full name
- Date of Birth
- Driving Licence Number
- Full details of your medical condition
You should also send your driving licence to them.
It is easier to re-instate a driving licence after a voluntary surrender than re-apply for a licence following a compulsory revocation. You can download the declaration of voluntary surrender from the government website.
You may be able to return to driving after notifying the DVLA of your condition. You will be required to complete a medical questionnaire detailing your medical condition and may also have to consent to the DVLA accessing your medical records to assess your ability to drive.
Practical driving assessments following a serious injury
A practical driving assessment can be useful to assess your ability to drive. It can also help you to:
- Identify any adaptations you may need to make to a vehicle
- Allow you to try different controls to see what works best for your needs
- Safely assess your physical and cognitive ability to drive
Your doctor may suggest a referral for a driving assessment to evaluate your ability to drive. Alternatively, if you or your family have any concerns, you can refer yourself to a local Driving Mobility Centre. There are 17 accredited Mobility Centres across the UK. You can find your nearest centre on the Driving Mobility website.
You can find out the cost of a driving assessment by contacting your local centre. If the DVLA or Motability refer you for a driving assessment, this will be free of charge.
A practical driving assessment is not a driving test. The staff at the centre are there to provide you with support and assistance. They are there to help you to retain or regain independent driving wherever possible.
The assessment evaluates:
- Your medical fitness to drive
- Any problems with your vision
- Your awareness and reactions
- The decision-making process
- Your ability to operate any controls
Following the assessment, you will receive some advice from the assessment centre, along with a written report about your driving ability and any suggestions they may have.
Reapplying for your driving licence
Following a driving assessment and discussion with your doctor, you may wish to reapply for your driving licence.
To do this, you must complete a D1 Licence Application with a letter of support showing you are fit to drive. This could include any report you have received from your driving assessment or a letter from your doctor. You can find a D1 Licence Application form at your local post office or online.
Taking lessons before returning to driving
It is a good idea to take some refresher driving lessons if you are returning to driving after a long period. It can also be a good idea if you are driving an adapted vehicle, to familiarise yourself with the controls and get used to a different way of driving.