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HGV UK recently published an article discussing the need for both professional drivers and their employers to adhere to disclosure laws so as not to risk the lives of others who might otherwise be harmed by an unfit driver. The article was based on a well-publicised case from 2014 involving a bin lorry that crashed and killed six people.

The driver operating the lorry, despite decades of health problems that included fainting spells and blackouts, was still able to get a job with the Glasgow City Council. The writer of the article assumes that the driver answered ‘no’ to the appropriate questions on his medical questionnaire and that the City Council made no attempt to investigate the man’s medical history before hiring him.

In summation, the HGV UK article stressed the need for both drivers and employers to take medical requirements more seriously. But perhaps we should take the discussion to the next level and talk about medical disclosures and the LGV provisional licence.

Medical Exam Prior to Training

All drivers attempting to earn a commercial driving licence must undergo a medical exam prior to commencing training. In fact, arranging for the medical exam is the first step in the training process. Our students receive medical paperwork along with the names and contact information to doctors throughout the UK offering the exams. Completed paperwork is submitted before the new driver ever applies for his or her provisional licence.

We obviously expect drivers to be honest about any and all medical conditions at the time of the exam. We expect that medical paperwork will be completed correctly and honestly and that drivers will disclose any current health conditions that could prove potentially dangerous. But what happens in cases of dishonesty?

Investigations and Prosecutions

One could make the case that companies like ours should be required to investigate medical history before a student’s application for the LGV provisional licence. But that is neither practical nor sound. We are commercial driver trainers, not private investigators with the resources to conduct such investigations. If any such investigations are to be conducted, that would be the responsibility of the NHS or private physician conducting the medical exam.

Another option, and one that would probably be more effective, is the aggressive prosecution of any driver who fails to disclose medical problems. In the case of the Glasgow driver involved in the 2014 accident, he was not prosecuted for death by dangerous driving. That is mind-boggling. The fact that he had a long history of medical issues dating back to 1976 is an indication that he probably knew he was unfit to drive.

Reasonably good health is required before anyone can get the LGV provisional licence necessary to train to be a professional. Drivers need to undergo regular HGV medical exams throughout their careers to ensure their health is not failing. But all of this requires honesty. When honesty is lacking, it needs to be strongly encouraged through aggressive prosecution.

 

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