Written statement to Parliament

Drivers' medical standards

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Announcement of a consultation on proposals for changes to the driver medical standards.

The Department for Transport has today published a consultation on proposals for changes to the driver medical standards on eyesight, epilepsy and diabetes.

The current driver licensing rules in the UK are based on the second European Council Directive on driving licences (91/439/EEC). The minimum medical standards for the issue of driving licences are detailed in Annex III of the second directive and the forthcoming third European Directive on driving licences. Officials and medical experts from across the European Union reviewed the standards for eyesight, diabetes and epilepsy. Following receipt of their reports to the European Commission, amendments to the standards were adopted in 2009 in directives 2009/112/EC and 2009/113/EC, and came into force 15 September 2010.

The Secretary of State for Transport’s experts on the Honorary Medical Advisory Panels for eyesight, diabetes and neurology have considered the medical directives and how these compare with existing UK standards. For the most part the medical directives relax or more precisely define existing EU minimum medical standards. While UK standards must be at least at the level of a minimum standard we are not required by EU law to relax existing domestic standards where these are higher than the EU standards. However, where the panel has advised that a relaxation is consistent with road safety we are recommending that this is adopted. The implementation of these revised standards is the basis of the consultation.

The consultation period will run until 28 April 2011. Copies of the consultation document have been placed on the library of the House. Further copies are available on the DfT and DVLA websites. Depending on comments received and the department’s response, amendment for any change will be made to regulations or guidance issued to medical practitioners.