Doctors warn over drivers with dementia

Updated: 
100 Year Old Driver

Medical professionals are urging for a review of the rules concerning drivers with dementia, following concerns that the current system is allowing potentially dangerous drivers to remain behind the wheel.

GPs are to ask the British Medical Association (BMA) to review guidance given to front-line medical staff on assessing an elderly person's driving safety, to better accommodate those with an early dementia diagnosis.

Under current rules, a driver diagnosed with dementia must inform the DVLA or face a £1,000 fine. Drivers over the age of 70 must also reaffirm their ability to drive and apply for a new licence every three years

GP Dr Peter Holden, who is to raise the issue at the BMA's annual meeting in Liverpool, highlighted that it was only family doctors who were currently in the position of being able to prevent a potential tragedy by stopping sufferers who are unable to drive safely.

The Telegraph reported him as saying: "I expect that this would only affect four or five patients per practice where this is an issue, but we wouldn't accept four or five marauding gunmen."

While accident statistics did not normally record ill health as a factor, Dr Holden estimates that dementia could be a factor in several thousand accidents every year, with the situation made worse by poor public transport provision forcing elderly drivers to keep their cars.

However, mental health charities have warned against spreading alarm. George McNamara, spokesman for the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Scaremongering is not helpful in making rational decisions in this area. A dementia diagnosis is not in itself a reason to stop driving."

Do you know anyone who suffers from dementia? Has their driving been impaired as a result of their illness? Let us know in the comments section below.