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Announcement on UK driving regulation changes

The Driving Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has published its response to proposals that will change the laws for people driving with epilepsy.

These proposals follow a public consultation in April 2011on the rules, after the introduction of the new European Directive on Driving Standards. Read what Epilepsy Action said about these proposals.

Based on figures from the Department of Transport, Epilepsy Action estimates that around 275-550 people with epilepsy could benefit from these changes. Although these regulations do not apply at the moment, they will come into force later in 2012.

This means the main changes will be for Group 1 licences, which cover driving cars and motorcycles for personal use.

  • For the first time, drivers who have only have seizures while asleep may now be considered for a licence after one year, instead of the current three years.
  • Currently people who have seizures that do not affect their consciousness are unable to hold a driving licence, unless they are free of all seizures for one year. The new proposals will allow people who have these types of seizure to apply for a licence while they are still having seizures, provided they have only ever had this type of seizure. They can apply for a licence one year after diagnosis.
  • And currently if a person’s medication is changed, causing seizures, but the person returns to the old successful treatment, they have to wait one year before they can apply for a licence. The new proposals say this wait should be lowered to six-month seizure freedom.

See the full response of the DVLA

See the current driving rules and regulations. Epilepsy Action will be updating its advice and information when these rules come into effect.

In response to the announcement, Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive at Epilepsy Action, said:  

“We welcome the changes to UK driving regulations for people with epilepsy. The new rules are based on evidence. We believe they are fair and are an improvement on the previous regulations.

“Based on figures from the Department of Transport, Epilepsy Action estimates that around 275-550 people with epilepsy could benefit from these changes. Not being able to drive is not necessarily a barrier for people with epilepsy. However, driving can make a real difference for some people with the condition. For example, someone may be able to travel to a job further from home. It can also give them freedom and independence, and have a positive effect on many different areas of their life.

“It is important to note that people with epilepsy should only drive if they feel safe, and are legally able to do so.

Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning, said: “Road safety is a top priority for the Government and our licensing rules have an important role in ensuring that Britain maintains its position as having some of the safest roads in the world. We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive do so, while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence.

“We believe that these changes strike the right balance in allowing as many people as possible to drive, without compromising safety.”

If anyone is unsure about how the new regulations will affect them they should seek medical advice. They also can contact Epilepsy Action’s helpline on freephone 0808 800 5050 or visit www.epilepsy.org.uk

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