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Driving after a stroke: Guidelines and regulations

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The ability to drive gives us the power to travel independently, whether it is just the everyday drive to work or dropping the kids at school, however, for a stroke survivor, whether they are able to resume driving depends on the after affects of their stroke.

Here, SR Times explores the guidelines and regulations regarding driving in the UK after a stroke.

The long term effects of a stroke can result in a wide range of physical and cognitive impairments, which can cause significant affects to an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. 

Due to the effects of stroke, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has specific guidelines and regulations in place for drivers who have had a stroke.

Inform the DVLA

Firstly, as a legal requirement, you must inform the DVLA of your stroke, failure to do so can result in a fine or prosecution. 

You do not need to inform the DVLA if you have had a transient ischaemic attack (known more commonly as a mini-stroke) or a stroke that required no brain surgeries or seizures.

You do to need to inform the DVLA if you had a stroke due to a bleed in the brain, known as a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Assessment

Once notified, the DVLA will assess your medical condition to determine your fitness to drive. This assessment will take into account the severity of your stroke, any residual impairments, and any other medical conditions you may have.

Depending the assessment results, the DVLA may issue a temporary or permanent driving license. 

In some cases, you may have to undergo a driving assessment to evaluate your driving ability. The aim of the assessment is to determine whether you can drive safely without posing a risk to yourself or others on the road.

It is important to note that the DVLA’s decision is final. If they deem you unfit to drive, you must surrender your license.

Getting behind the wheel

If the DVLA does grant you a license to drive, there are several things to consider. 

Firstly, it is essential to be aware of your physical and cognitive limitations. For example, if you have a weakness or paralysis on one side of your body, you may need to modify your vehicle or use adaptive equipment to operate the pedals and steering wheel.

It is also important to be aware of any potential hazards on the road. For example, if you have difficulty with your peripheral vision, you may need to be extra cautious at junctions and when changing lanes.

Additionally, you may need to avoid driving in adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or fog.

Finally, it is essential to monitor your health regularly. If you experience any changes in your condition, such as a recurrence of symptoms, you should inform the DVLA immediately. Failure to do so can result in the suspension or revocation of your driving license.

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