You get an eye test and the results reveal that your sight is poor, even with glasses, and the optometrist or doctor tells you to stop driving immediately and inform the DVLA.
What do you do?
For the vast majority, the answer is obvious. You stop driving.
But a couple of recent cases show that not everyone is willing to hang up their keys and their stubborn refusal to stare facts in the face, even with a myopic squint-eyed madness, has led to catastrophe.
John Place,72, is just starting a four year jail sentence after he ignored two optometrists and went on to hit and kill a three-year-old girl at a pedestrian crossing with his Volkswagen Passat.
The conviction came hot on the heels of a court case up in Northumbria, when another 72-year-old, this time HGV driver John Rogerson, again ignored advice from his optician not to drive.
A fortnight later he struck a JCB – which he hadn’t seen – at 50mph on the A1, killing the driver.
Rogerson has now been jailed for two years and four months.
Writing in the British Medical Journal last week, barrister and medical ethicist Daniel Sokol said making disclosure to the DVLA mandatory would tackle any driver’s reluctance to deal with their medical problems.
Current guidance hands patients a legal obligation to inform the DVLA about any medical condition they have – not a doctor or optometrist – which protects the cherished doctor-patient confidentiality.
If the patient continues to drive then the medical practitioner should make “every reasonable effort to persuade them to stop”.
If that doesn’t work then all bets are off and they get to call the DVLA.
But as Sokol says, the trouble with this system is that it relies on a patient’s honesty and not all patients, as illustrated above, are honest.
This month, the General Medical Council (GMC) says it will update its advice for medical professionals reporting concerns to the DVLA and it intends to allow doctors to disclose information if others are at risk, even if the patient does not agree to it.
However, it stops short of mandatory reporting.
GMC chief executive Charlie Massey says: “There is a clear public good in having a confidential medical service and we would be concerned about the wider implications if the trust between a doctor and their patient was eroded.”
But it’s the erosion in confidence of the system that families of victims would say has already been compromised.
If you have committed a motoring offence due to an undisclosed medical condition contact our specialist motoring solicitors for advice on 0800 046 3066