Millions of motorists fail to disclose medical conditions

  • An estimated 3.4 million motorists in England and Wales have not informed the DVLA of a notifiable medical condition(s) that must be disclosed
  • However, last year only 64 motorists were found guilty and sentenced in court for offences relating to non‐disclosure of medical issues
  • 14 per cent of drivers who had not told the DVLA did not realise they had to declare medical conditions

New analysis1 by Direct Line Car Insurance reveals that of the 35.3 million licence holders in England and Wales2, an estimated 3.4 million have not disclosed notifiable medical conditions to the DVLA, putting themselves and other road users at risk. Despite the estimated scale of the issue, the insurer found that in 2015 only 64 motorists in England and Wales were convicted and sentenced in court for offences relating to non‐disclosure of medical issues3. This represents less than 1 per cent of all licence holders who have a medical condition but have not declared it.

The penalties for not declaring a medical condition include up to a £1,000 fine and the risk of prosecution if the driver is involved in an accident. Medical conditions such as visual impairments, diabetes, heart conditions or epilepsy must be disclosed to the DVLA.

Additional research4 by Direct Line reveals the reasons why drivers did not declare their medical conditions to the DVLA. The majority presumed their condition did not affect their driving ability (51 per cent) and 14 per cent did not realise they had to inform them of the problem. Worryingly, 5 per cent did not see the point in declaring it with the DVLA and 4 per cent had never thought of it. One in twenty (5 per cent) did not declare a medical condition(s) to the DVLA out of concern that their licence would be taken away.

Gus Park, director of motor at Direct Line, commented: “Some medical conditions have more of an impact on driving ability than being over the drink‐drive limit, so it’s frightening that almost one in ten motorists drive with a notifiable medical condition without reporting it to the DVLA. It’s clear that there’s no deterrent for those flouting the law in this way, as shown by the small amount of people convicted.

Park continues: “With the majority presuming their condition will not affect their driving ability, we urge motorists not to be complacent when it comes to declaring medical conditions. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you should inform the DVLA, call them to find out. Not declaring a medical condition is illegal, puts you and other road users at risk and can potentially lead to fatal consequences.”

Over 8.8 million motorists (25 per cent) in England and Wales have a health condition with the most common being a heart condition (9 per cent).

Table One: most common types of medical conditions suffered by drivers in England and Wales

Medical condition Percentage of drivers in England and Wales that suffer from it
Heart conditions 9%
Stroke or mini stroke 8%
Diabetes 7%
Physical disability 7%
Brain condition or severe head injury 5%
Visual impairment 3%
Epilepsy 1%

Source: Direct Line Car Insurance, 2016

Direct Line offers the following advice for drivers with a serious medical condition:

‐ Contact the DVLA if you are unsure whether or not you need to disclose any information. If your doctor has told you that you need to stop driving, you will need to send your licence to the DVLA.

‐ If you have a medical condition and are unsure if it should be disclosed to the DVLA, then you can check online here: https://www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving

‐ If you have disclosed a medical condition and need to surrender your licence, do so voluntarily as it may mean you can start driving again sooner. There are different rules for when you can drive again depending on whether your licence was voluntarily surrendered, or it was revoked or refused for medical reasons.

‐ How to reapply for a new licence: DVLA will send you a letter when your licence is taken away or surrendered, or if your application for a driving licence is refused. This tells you if there’s a period of time you need to wait before getting a new licence. You can then reapply eight weeks before the end of this period.

‐ You can reapply for your licence when your doctor says you meet the medical standards for driving. If you are eligible to reapply, you will need to complete a D1 application form and the form for your medical condition and send them to DVLA. You may also need to send evidence of your fitness to drive, but the letter from DVLA will tell you if this is the case. You can order the forms from here: https://www.gov.uk/dvlaforms.

- If you had to surrender your licence, remember that not everyone is eligible to continue to drive while their renewal application is in process. Check with your doctor and the DVLA in the first instance to avoid a fine up to £1,000.

Notes to Editors

1 Analysis of DVLA postcode district driver licence data, Great Britain, as at March 2016

2 The figures (all datasets) throughout this release only relate to drivers in England and Wales

3 Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information Request to the Ministry of Justice, June 2016. Offences include: driving after failing to disclose or declare your physical status or driving after refusal or revocation of licence.

4 Research conducted by Opinium amongst 1,776 adults in England and Wales between 6 and 11th November 2015

For further information, please contact:

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on‐line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 300 7838 or visiting www.directline.com.

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