If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while now, you probably already know that becoming an HGV driver isn’t exactly a simple process. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get your licence and lots of different options depending on what you want to do. But one of the things every HGV driver has to go through is a medical exam. Once to get your licence, and then every 5 years to keep it. This is more than just a box-ticking exercise, it’s an essential tool for ensuring the safety of everyone on the road. So before you go for your own exam, here are three things you need to know.
What the Exam Involves
The medical exam for becoming an HGV driver is about much more than filling in some forms. You have to go and see an NHS GP or equivalent private doctor and have a full, intensive physical exam and health check. While it’s good to get this done every now and then anyway, the medical exam is there to make sure you will be safe behind the wheel. The doctor will work through a checklist of paperwork, filling it in as they do the exam, before reviewing it, signing it off and sending it directly to the DVLA for consideration. Some of the things your doctor will look at include:
- General health
- Heart and cardiovascular health
- Mental health
- Nervous system problems
- Diabetes mellitus
- History of sleep disorders
One thing the GP may focus on in particular is your vision. In order to pass the exam you will need to have adequate vision (either corrected or uncorrected) – with at least 6/9 in one eye and 6.12 in the other to pass. So you won’t be penalised for wearing glasses or lenses, as long as they are accurate for your vision. If you do need to wear glasses or lenses, you will need to wear them at all times when driving.
You Can Fail
It’s an exam, which means by definition you can fail. In HGV terms, it’s known as a ‘disqualification’, and the doctor can note you down as disqualified if you post a significant or serious safety risk behind the wheel of a heavy goods vehicle. A few possible reasons for disqualification include:
- Mental disorders
- Visual impairment
- Risk of seizures/epilepsy
- Heart disorders
- Recent history of blackouts or unconscious episodes
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse
This list of conditions is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of what conditions might rule out HGV driving as a career for you. But remember – even if you suffer from one of these conditions, that doesn’t mean you will automatically fail. It’s down to the doctor to decide if you are safe and fit to drive, or if you pose a safety risk.
It’s Not Always Free
While the NHS is a fantastic system, not everything is covered by it. This sometimes includes medical exams for jobs. There is no DVLA mandate for the NHS to provide these exams for free – so getting the exam done could cost you. While some clinics and GPs offices will be happy to do this for free, others will charge a nominal fee for the longer appointment, especially as it’s not a ‘typical’ GP service. This means it might be an idea to check what the situation is with your GP before you make the appointment – since if you are paying anyway it might be worth going down the private route to jump the queues.
Ultimately, the medical exam is there to make sure you and everyone else on the road will be safe with you behind the wheel. There is no automatic ban on being an HGV driver, even if you do suffer from one of the above conditions – it’s down to the professional judgement of your doctor. So if you are otherwise fit and healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem for you. If you are healthy enough to pass the medical, we would love you to consider training with us. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch today.