Fit to Drive?

  • Published: PACTS Road User Behaviour Working Party, March 2016
  • Authors: Carsten, D. Campsall, N. Christie and R. Tunbridge
  • Date Added: 02 Jun 2017
  • Last Update: 02 Jun 2017
  • Format: html


This report examines the research evidence and current practice in Great Britain on fitness to drive. It covers a wide range of impairments, including ones that are relatively long-term for the individual (such as physical and cognitive impairments) and the short-term ones that can be sometimes be related to individual behaviour and choice (for example alcohol consumption and fatigue).


For each type of impairment, there is a discussion of how that impairment affects risk in driving. Where appropriate, this is followed by a review of interventions to manage and control those risks. Finally, there is a discussion of implications for policy.

Key Findings:

Recommendations (relevant for the topic):

  • There needs to be standard care pathway adopted in clinical settings which helps manage the safe mobility of people with cognitive impairment. Where the driver is recommended to cease driving they need to be supported with alternatives to maintain mobility and avoid social exclusion

  • Given the potential underreporting of illnesses and injuries which affect cognitive impairment to the DVLA, there is a need for a protocol for GPs and other health professionals to discuss fitness to drive with their patients. However, it is important that these health professionals are not, and should not appear to their patients to be, responsible for deciding whether a licence is to be revoked

  • There should be joint work by the College of Occupational Therapists, Forum of Mobility Centres, clinical commissioning groups and the road safety profession to look at current provision of off-road and on-road assessment for drivers with functional limitations with a view to building capacity in the relevant professions

  • There are particular responsibilities for employers in ensuring the fitness of their employees to drive, and HSE needs to take a far more active role here. Currently no central government agency or department is taking responsibility in this crucial area

  • Find out whether GPs actually know about the DVLA advice

  • With increased levels of prescription medicines, research should be commissioned to look in more detail at any potential associated risks

  • Research is needed into developing a clinically viable desk based assessment of driving safety

  • DfT should work with third sector stakeholders to conduct a feasibility study on delivery of a physical conditioning programme to drivers most likely to suffer from functional limitations based on age and disability

  • Highways England and the other strategic road authorities should look at whether there are design treatments that can ameliorate monotonous road design.