If you develop a physical condition or disease that hampers your ability to handle a car, should you give up your driving licence?
In Singapore, the onus is on the driver to recognise medical or physical conditions that can adversely affect his driving abilities. These include:
- sprained ankles or injured toes that prevent you from stepping on the car pedals
- eye infections or migraines that make seeing or concentrating difficult
- chronic conditions such as narcolepsy (a condition in which sleep can strike at any time)
Between 2012 and 2016, 69 drivers had their licences revoked after they were found to have disabilities or diseases that impeded their driving abilities. Of these, 12 were involved in accidents due to their conditions, and are liable under the Penal Code for having committed a negligent or rash act.
While applicants for provisional driving licences in Singapore must declare that they are medically fit, medical examinations are not mandatory. More stringent rules apply to drivers aged 65 and above, who have to undergo medical examinations.
Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health, says that Singapore is studying practices in various countries for the best option for local needs. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) lists medical conditions that need to be reported. Failure to do so results in a fine of up to £1,000, or prosecution, if the driver with the condition is involved in an accident. While doctors owe patients a duty of confidentiality, they may report to the DVLA if they suspect any of their patients of continuing to drive despite their advice.“We have to be mindful that our regulations strike a balance in ensuring that drivers continue to be fit to drive on the roads without imposing overly onerous reporting requirements,” says Mr Amrin.
The Road Traffic Rules (Motor Vehicles, Driving Licences) lists the prescribed disabilities and diseases that question an applicant’s fitness and ability to drive, such as:
- mental disorders
- liable to sudden attacks of disabling giddiness or fainting
- inability to read at a distance of 25m despite visual aids
- inability to distinguish colours of the traffic light from a distance of 25m
If the Traffic Police discovers — be it through self-reporting or public notification — that a driver is suffering from a disease or physical disability that may endanger the public while driving, it will compel him to undergo a medical examination at a government hospital or specialist institution to assess his fitness to drive. Should the driver fail the examination, his licence will be revoke
A driver who have had the below conditions should immediately stop driving as they become clear hazards on the roads:
- previously well people who have suffered their first epileptic seizure
- previously well people who have suffered their first episode of severe psychosis
- diabetics whose vision is so compromised from retinopathy that safe driving can no longer be assured
Dr Wong Tien Hua, President of Singapore Medical Association says, “While some of such patients would voluntarily stop driving following medical advice, others remain in denial, lack sufficient insight to comply, or simply refuse outright.”
Drivers should be considerate and responsible in ensuring the safety themselves and others on the roads. If you have doubts about your driving ability, seek advice from your doctor. You should be confident that you are not a danger to yourself and others before you get behind the wheel.