Be it alone or with co-passengers, it is essential that we take utmost care while driving to ensure the human safety of ourselves and pedestrians. Several health conditions can act as detrimental factors for driving, especially when alone. Driving involves synchrony of cognition, vision, consciousness and motor skills. Disruption in any of these can render a person incapable of driving, particularly when alone. Even if one has a license to drive, he/she must not drive in case they develop any medical condition that can affect their ability to drive safely, lest it becomes a license to kill.
Persons with any of the following medical conditions should not drive especially when alone:
A driver who has had a medical history of epilepsy or is on anti-epileptic drugs must not drive. If an individual has a sudden episode of seizure or loss of consciousness that does not require anti-epileptic drugs, then he is observed for 6 months before being permitted to drive again.
A limb deformity or lack of muscle power can interfere with the ability to drive.
3. Post- surgery
After undergoing a surgery, one cannot drive immediately due to the effects of anesthesia. Till the effects of anesthesia completely wear off, driving is a no-no. Following orthopedic surgery, one needs to withhold driving until given a clean chit by the physician.
4. Heart disorders
Persons having a cardiovascular disease like angina, uncontrolled blood pressure, the recent history of heart attack, history of fainting, difficulty in breathing etc. must refrain from driving alone until he/ she has been certified to drive again post a normal Stress Test, electrocardiogram, and minimal symptoms.
A person having diabetes mellitus and on insulin injections should avoid driving alone due to the possibility of sudden drop of sugar level (hypoglycaemia) unexpectedly.
6. Respiratory disorders
Persons with a history of respiratory conditions like bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis etc having frequent, severe episodes should avoid driving alone since sudden respiratory dysfunction is very unsafe for driving.
7. Visual disorders
A person having a medical condition related to vision e.g.: cataract, colour blindness, night blindness, previous history of retinal detachment, glaucoma is not eligible to drive.
The person on medications that may result in drowsiness should not drive. Those on any habit forming drugs or into the substance or alcohol abuse should not drive as these drugs can affect the mental faculty and cognitive power essential for driving safely.
9. Mental disorders
An individual suffering from schizophrenia, paranoia, anxiety nervosa, severe depression is not qualified to drive. All those conditions that affect memory, reasoning, attention, judgement should be thoroughly assessed as they can hinder safe driving.
10. Hearing impairment
Anyone having a hearing disorder or having a hearing loss greater than 40 decibels with or without a hearing aid must not drive alone.
11. Neurological disorders
Degenerative conditions and age related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson that can interfere with motor coordination, reflexes, reaction, orientation, judgement, vision and understanding make a person unfit to drive.
A person suffering from severe motion sickness- nausea, vomiting, vertigo; must avoid driving alone.
Who can drive alone?
Those who have been assessed and rendered fit and safe to drive by the physician can drive alone:
- Hypertension which is under control is not a contraindication to driving unless there is any target organ damage that may result in sudden collapse.
- If the driver is seizure free and off anti-epileptic drugs for more than 10 years then he can drive alone.
- Once the patient is on a suitable dose of anticoagulants, in the case of thromboembolism or deep vein thrombosis, he can safely drive.
- The driver can safely drive wearing contact lenses as long as he is adapted to them, but he cannot use a lens in one eye for near vision and in the other eye for distant vision at the same time.
- Patients suffering from arthritis can drive as long as the pain and stiffness doesn’t incapacitate them.
- A person can safely drive if the physician has prescribed a drug and assured that it will not interfere with the ability to drive in any way.
- If the driver can successfully meet the audiometric test after using a hearing aid, then he can drive alone.
It is necessary that each one takes up the task of responsible driving for his/her own as well as public safety.