It appears that drivers in the UK who are honest enough to register an illness when applying for a driving licence are being treated less than fairly by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing agency (DVLA). In a change of policy the DVLA are regarding sufferers of certain diseases a lot more harshly than they have done in the past and many groups and charities are upset about it.
Change in guidelines unfair?
The new guidelines being used by the DVLA on people who suffer from diabetes is putting car drivers in danger of losing their licence and diabetes sufferers who typically work with vehicles covered by commercial vehicle insurance in danger of losing their livelihood. The change in interpretation of the health issues surrounding diabetes sufferers now means that any driver having two attacks of severe drops in blood sugar levels inside 12 months could have their licences revoked. This means a plumber with diabetes can find his van insurance revoked because he has lost his driving licence and his business has disappeared.
A spokesperson from the DVLA defended the agency however: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world and licensing rules have an important role in maintaining this position. We aim to strike the right balance – making sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads, while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence.”
They went on to add: “We must apply European medical standards but we consider every case individually and only refuse licences where absolutely necessary.”
Charity takes up the cause
Diabetes UK, a charity that represents diabetes suffers, said the new regulations could affect up to 1 million diabetics in the UK who take insulin to control their illness. He explained that the DVLA now take into consideration a night time attack which has not been the case in the past. Night time attacks are more commonplace simply because the victim isn’t aware of changes in their blood sugar levels because they are asleep. The charity has plenty of supporters in this and questions have already been asked in the House of Commons. The problem arising for diabetes sufferers has also highlighted the case of people who have been honest enough to say they struggled with depression in the past. They too can have their licences taken away.
Drivers who inform authorities show responsibility
Whilst everyone will understand the DVLA’s official line that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on the roads of the UK, it does seem unfair that people, who have gone to great lengths to explain to the authorities their illness and the drugs they take to control it, should be treated so harshly. Surely the fact that they are controlling their illness tells the authorities they are responsible drivers. After all, anyone can go out and exceed the drink driving limit; it is just that some are more responsible than others.