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Driving with a Mental Condition

Driving is a complex activity that demands skill and concentration.

A good driver must have focus, quick reflexes, and sound judgment for the sake of public safety. If a driver fails to react on time, plenty of other lives could be at risk, including his or her own. If you have a diagnosed mental disability and you want to know more about driving in your current state, please read on.

Mental Disability and Driving

Driving is risky and complicated on its own and is harder for some people with a mental condition. Mental disorders can hurt reaction times, judgment and concentration. A person with a mental disability has a slightly higher risk of getting into a traffic accident compared to someone who is not mentally ill.

The risk of traffic mishaps is actually higher for alcohol and drug abuse. But the chances for people with mental conditions to get involved in an accident are still there. If you want to drive with a mental disorder, you need careful planning and execution to stay safe on the road.

The DVLA

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) exists for a reason: to ensure everyone stays safe on the road. Safety for both drivers and the general public is one of the responsibilities of the agency.

The DVLA has many other responsibilities, including:

  •        Creates and maintains vehicle records
  •        Issues vehicle registration certificates
  •        Collects vehicle excise duties
  •        Provides refunds
  •        Records keeper for accidents, scrapped vehicles, and theft

If you want to check your vin number, the DVLA can help you.

Do I have to tell the DVLA about my mental health condition?

The short answer is yes, primarily if it affects your ability to drive or if your doctor says so. All medical conditions that may affect a driver’s ability to control a vehicle fall under the purview of the DVLA.

There are some mental conditions that the DVLA must know about. If you are suffering from any of these conditions, please inform the agency:

  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar disorder
  • psychotic depression
  • paranoid schizophrenia
  • schizoaffective disorder

If you have one of the mental disorders on the list below, you only need to inform the DVLA if it affects your ability to drive:

What if I’m taking medication for my mental health condition?

Pharmacological treatment can help make people with mental disorders feel better. Medication can also help reduce the risks of driving with a psychological condition. But the caveat here is that certain drugs have side-effects that can impair driving skills. Around 10% of people taking psychotropic drugs get into an accident and either die or are injured.

How to Tell the DVLA About Your Mental Condition

There is a section on the driving license application form that asks questions about your current health status. If you’re a new driver with a mental disorder, you should fill out this part of the application to inform the DVLA about your mental health issues.

The same goes if you are renewing your license, but was recently diagnosed with a mental condition. You also need to tell the DVLA if your symptoms are getting worse.

Conclusion

If you have a mental health disorder, it’s your responsibility to always remain sharp and focused on the road to keep others safe from harm. Always remember that when you’re behind the wheel, your life, the lives of your passengers and other people on the road are in your hands. Whenever you feel that your driving abilities are getting impaired, please stop driving. Call your doctor and inform the DVLA immediately to get an assessment.

Written by Lilly Myers

Lilly Myers is a freelance content writer and social worker at Beverly Hills Speech Therapy. She has just recently received Master's in Medical Sciences. Besides her occupancy she tries to find a spare time for volunteering and helping the people with disorders.

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