Monday, 25 January 2016

Eye tests and driving

Eye tests and driving

Over the years, people with certain illnesses like dementia have always been restricted when it comes to things like driving.
Giving up driving is one of those subjects which can cause a lot if distress, as families try to restrict those in their care from driving, and that sometimes leads to many arguments within the family.

This sometimes leads to people with these illnesses refusing to give up driving, because they are determined to carry on, and they think that because they have driven for many years, they are safe to carry on. 

To me this should always have been dealt with by consultants or family doctor, and they should have been responsible enough to tell the person that they should stop driving, not leaving it to the families.
They should also have been responsible enough to tell the DVLA that this person is unsafe in their opinion to carry on driving

They also have the power to tell the person to do a driving safety test if they think it's the best way, but they should not continue to hide behind patient confidentially, especially when someone else's safety may be at risk 

The Driving licence and vehicle authority DVLA have a set of guidelines about illnesses and driving, but I do wonder how many people read and understand them, including doctors 

Many years ago I had a trapped nerve and had to wear a neck brace. But it took a nursing sister to point out that I should not be driving because I would not be insured if I had an accident.

 I had in fact been wearing this brace for nearly a year when I was told this. 
The consultant at the hospital had said nothing, neither had our family doctor, it was only pointed out when I was sent to have traction on my neck that this came out.

Over the years I have had intermittent double vision problems, and driving had never been mentioned either until recently when I saw a neurological specialist at an eye hospital. 

This was the second eye hospital I had been to in recent years, yet prior this to this recent specialist, no one had ever said that I should contact the DVLA, which makes me wonder if hospitals are bothering to say anything about the law.

I confess that I had never driven by myself ever since I got my licence back after my diagnosis of early onset Lewy body dementia, and if I did not feel completely fine, I refused to get behind the driving wheel.
However I have decided that enough is enough, and I have returned my driving licence, and given up driving completely.

But over the last few days I heard that people are driving in their late 79-80s and are not being told to get their eyes tested to see if they can see clearly and safely. 

This to me is very wrong if the authorities are saying the young people with early onset dementia should be stopped from driving, yet they are not doing anything about the elderly, who may not react fast enough behind the wheel let alone see clearly.

In this day and age of fee bus passes there is no excuse, although I understand that some people live in the countryside, sometimes where there are few if any local bus services. 

But I do think that the government should do more now to stop people driving. 
At the end if the day, if your family doctor or specialist does not inform you to stop driving, and also tell the DVLA about their worries, they are leaving themselves open to being sued by the patients.

I was once told that if anyone with dementia had an accident while driving, they would be blamed by the insurance companies,  whether they were to blame or not. 

I am not sure if this is legal or correct, but it does worry me that people with this illness may be victimised simply because they have this illness, while others are getting away scot free.

 Other people may well be more dangerous, because of eyesight or reaction problems.




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