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Fit To Drive

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What are the medical conditions that could affect your ability to drive? Read on to find out.

A driver in the United Kingdom suffered an epileptic fit and lost control of his vehicle, ploughing into a couple, killing one and severely injuring the other. Given his long history of epilepsy, he had actually been warned not to drive but chose to do so — to grave consequences. This incident clearly highlights the importance of responsible motoring.

Drunk driving or road rage incidents may hog the headlines but, truth be told, there are many other issues that can compromise road safety. Anything that leads to a driver’s impairment and ability to control his or her vehicle is a danger to other road users. And having a medical condition that does that to a driver is as dangerous as drink driving.

In Singapore, a medical examination is required for drivers 65 years old and above to certify that they are fit to drive before their licence is approved. However, there is a list of disabilities and diseases under the Road Traffic Act (Motor Vehicles, Driving Licences) that precludes a motorist from driving. So drivers who have medical conditions that could render them unfit to drive and fail to report them can be charged under the Penal Code for committing a negligent or rash act if they get into an accident, and have their driving insurance voided.

Some medical conditions to watch out for include:

Mental disorders can affect judgement, concentration and reaction times of a driver. Even though some medications can help, the danger is that those medications can have side effects that affect a driver’s cognitive ability.

The road safety risk that a driver suffering from epilepsy poses is all too evident in the UK incident mentioned earlier. Epilepsy sufferers run the risk of having seizures that can lead to loss of consciousness, an inability to control muscle movement, being absent-minded and unaware of time and space momentarily, and sometimes even collapsing and possibly convulsing.

Diabetics, especially those on insulin, need to be aware of the possible onset of hypoglycaemia. Low blood sugar can lead to dizziness and confusion, an inability to concentrate and, in more serious cases, blurry or double vision and unconsciousness.

A driver with cataracts or vision issues will have difficulty reading or seeing into the distance, which affects his ability to differentiate objects or other road users clearly. The minimum standard of visual acuity every driver here must meet is the ability to read at a distance of 25m (this can be with the aid of spectacles or contact lenses) a series of six letters and figures in white on a black background of the same size and arrangement as those prescribed for the identification mark of a motor vehicle. The driver must be able to distinguish the colours red, amber and green from that same distance.

A driver’s honest judgement of his or her ability and fitness to drive safely is an important factor to improving road safety. The responsibility lies with drivers; if they know that they have medical issues that can affect their perception, response time, and control of their vehicles, they should seek a certified medical practitioner to assess their ability before going out on the roads and putting every other road user at risk.

Whatever the state of your health, it’s important to get yourself insured as a driver. And AA Singapore’s subsidiary, AAS Insurance Agency, has numerous types of policies on offer.

One in particular — AA Motor Plus — allows you to enjoy road trips from Singapore to Peninsula Malaysia with higher personal accident and medical expense coverage, 24-hour roadside assistance, and car key replacement coverage. More details here.

In addition, for every motor insurance quote you request, you will receive complimentary petrol discount vouchers. More details here.

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