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Glasgow bin lorry crash a tragic accident, but research shows medical aspects of fitness to drive are poorly understood by many doctors

Dr Carol Hawley, Associate Fellow, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick draws on her expertise of leading research for the DVLA to comment on the Glasgow bin lorry crash.

"Research conducted for the DVLA found that there are medical aspects of fitness to drive that are not routinely taught in UK Medical Schools, and doctors had limited knowledge of which medical conditions can adversely affect driving.

"Research I led at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, found that although the DVLA Medical Group publishes a detailed guide to medical conditions which can affect driving, and this is updated regularly, many GPs and other health professionals were unaware of the full range of medical conditions which require notification to the DVLA, and the medical rules for these conditions.

"Over 1500 health professionals took part in our study which was published in 2010. We also found that only a third of patients said they had received advice from their doctor without having to ask for it. Only a quarter of the patients said they had received unprompted advice from their doctor. Even then, the advice received was not always correct. When patients who were medically unfit to drive were advised to stop or alter their driving the vast majority took that advice.

"Doctors told us they felt that their role is to address their patients’ health issues and not to police their behaviour. It also became apparent that GPs do not always know the profession of their patients, so could be unaware that a patient is a professional driver. The medical rules are more strict for drivers of heavy goods vehicles or public service vehicles such as buses, but doctors were often unaware of these rules and which of their patients they applied to."

Dr Hawley is available for comment.

For further details please contact Nicola Jones, Communications Manager, University of Warwick 07824 540863 or N.Jones.1@warwick.ac.uk

For further details please contact Nicola Jones, Communications Manager, University of Warwick 07824 540863 or N.Jones.1@warwick.ac.uk