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Driving with dementia probe backed by UK doctors

A question that Book Theory Test Today is not often asked is ‘what is the impact on our driving when we start to lose some of our faculties?’ Recent news reports have centred on driving with dementia, as those suffering with the condition are deemed to be too dangerous to be on the road.

Book Theory Test Today says: “Taking away one’s freedom to drive is basically taking away someone’s independence, one could argue. But, what if it was for that person’s safety, is it right to strip them of their driving licence due to health concerns?”

We’ve heard it peddled many times, that drivers of a certain age should not be allowed to drive due to concerns over their reactions, their eye sight and numerous other ailments that allegedly cause them to be a danger on the roads.

Now it’s their mental state that’s being called into question, as UK doctors back a campaign highlighting the ‘dangers’ of driving with dementia.

British Medical Association | the dangers of driving with dementia

During the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual meeting, delegates overwhelmingly voted for more research into the impact of driving with dementia, responding to growing fears that dementia sufferers are not safe on Britain’s roads.

Dr Peter Holden explained to delegates at the meeting that current guidelines concerning driving with dementia are ‘too general to be helpful.’

He said: “Current guidelines focus on individual conditions as they have an effect on one’s ability to hold a driving licence. But driving with dementia cannot be measured in this way, guidelines must assess the person as a whole and their fitness to drive.”

He added: “Guidance on driving with dementia in the current guidelines does not expand beyond five lines of text. The act of safe driving requires integration of a complex set of often fast-changing sensory inputs, coupled with swift reflexes and a high degree of judgment – all factors affected by dementia.”

Can’t drive

Psychiatrist, Deidre Shields, said: “When an individual has advanced dementia, it becomes apparent that they cannot drive. However, people are already seeking a diagnosis when their impairments are still mild. Further research is crucial.”

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “I can see why driving with dementia would be an issue, but are sufferers more dangerous on the road than drink or drug drivers or disabled individuals?

I think the issue of driving with dementia has been labelled a problem because it’s easier to strip sufferers of a driving licence rather than continuously monitor their ability to drive.”

“Would health professionals turn round and say to a motorist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lost limbs, ‘sorry, but you’re unfit to drive because you do not have all the necessary body parts required for safe driving?’ Absolutely not, a solution would be found to equip them to drive.”

Do you know someone who suffers with dementia, but is still driving? What’s your view on people driving with dementia? Leave a comment.

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