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A tragic accident in Glasgow caused by a medical incident suffered by an HGV driver has led to calls for tighter driver medicals and medical reporting. The 2014 accident involving a bin lorry resulted in the deaths of six people who were out shopping when the lorry driver suffered a seizure and blacked out.

As it currently stands, a standard HGV medical exam is required for all new drivers hoping to obtain a Category C or Category C+E licence. The exam focuses on things such as eyesight and any physical conditions or diseases that could potentially make one a dangerous driver. The exam itself is fine for new drivers who meet minimum requirements. The problem is, drivers are expected to voluntarily inform their employers of any changes or developing medical conditions not present when the HGV medical was conducted.

In the case of the Glasgow accident, the driver in question had suffered similar incidents while working for a previous employer. He did not disclose them when he was hired by Glasgow City Council to drive the bin lorry. Had he done so, it is entirely possible that he would not have been hired.

Changes to the System

As a result of the accident and subsequent trial of the driver, advocacy groups including the BRAKE safe driving charity are calling for changes to the system. In November, BRAKE submitted a list of recommendations to Sheriff John Beckett as follows:

  1. The DVLA and medical profession need to work together to raise awareness of the dangers of driving when suffering from any conditions that can compromise one’s fitness to drive.
  2. The DVLA needs to be more proactive about investigating drivers after receiving information suggesting that a driver may be a danger on the road.
  3. Changes to the law need to be considered, including more severe penalties for drivers prosecuted after failing to disclose medical conditions that would disqualify them from driving.

The recommendations made by BRAKE are just that. It is now up to the government to decide what to do with those recommendations, if they do anything at all.

Be Honest AND Safe

Those of us here at the HGV Training Centre join BRAKE in pleading with HGV and PCV drivers throughout the UK to be honest and upfront about medical conditions. The HGV medical exam is a good start that serves its purpose, but individual drivers have an added responsibility to report any changes in their health that could prove dangerous. Doing so is both common sense and the best way to stay safe.

If you have considered becoming a professional lorry driver, understand that you will be required to undergo the HGV medical exam. The exam is conducted by a doctor according to set government standards that do not change. That doctor completes the appropriate medical paperwork and submits it to the DVLA on behalf of the driver, making it officially known whether or not the individual is fit to drive.

Sources:

Commercial Fleet – http://www.commercialfleet.org/news/latest-news/2015/12/10/brake-backs-calls-for-changes-to-fitness-to-drive-rules

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