In a lot of our previous posts, we’ve talked about all the things you need to do to get your Driver CPC qualification. There are a lot of hoops to go through, training to do and exams to take. But one of the things we haven’t talked about as much is the medical exam. So far we’ve just mentioned that you need to have one done and be signed off as medically fit by a doctor. But what will the doctor look for, and what sort of things should you be worried about?
The main thing a doctor will want to know is how good is your eyesight since this is a pretty essential part of being a HGV driver! If your eyesight isn’t up to scratch, then you might need to consider glasses to correct it. The good news is that the guidelines on what is acceptable eyesight are actually quite clear – all HGV drivers must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 yards. This is with or without glasses or contact lenses – which is good news for those of us with a small sight defect. But there is a catch! If you do need glasses, then your prescription needs to be no higher than +8, and your vision needs to be 160 degrees or above. If you’re not sure what your vision is like, make an appointment to see your optician.
If you have epilepsy, you’re probably already aware of the issues around driving. Even for a standard licence, you need to have been seizure free for at least 5 years, and you can’t have been taking medication to control your condition at any point in that time period. Regardless of whether you have full seizures or minor auras, the rules are very strict. If you suffer from seizures and epilepsy, there is a good chance your ability to drive professionally will be significantly limited.
Any heart problems that aren’t being controlled and treated are going to raise red flags on a medical exam. That’s anything from heart attacks, angina, stroke and even atrial fibrillation. If your condition is being treated and managed properly, then there shouldn’t be any sort of issues, but there are some exceptions. For example, you can’t drive within 3 months of having heart bypass surgery, or within 12 months of a stroke or unexplained period of unconsciousness.
Issues with the brain are always cause for concern, particularly if you’ve had a nasty accident. If you’ve had any sort of brain surgery or brain injury, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever be able to drive again on a normal licence, let alone a HGV license. This is mainly because the chances of cognitive impairment are fairly high, and you need to be in full control of your faculties when you’re behind the wheel. Of course, each case is unique, but in most cases any kind of brain trauma, injury or surgery will rule you out at the medical stage.
Diabetes is a very common illness and affects around 9.5% of the population, so it’s not something that’s going to stop you from becoming an HGV driver by any means. All you have to do is demonstrate that you can keep it under control. This usually means you will need to record twice-daily glucose testing, and in if you have insulin-treated diabetes you’ll need your most recent 3 months of glucose readings stored on a personal meter, ready to produce on request.
Tiredness kills. It’s all over billboards, TV adverts and taught over and over in driver training. That’s why we train our drivers to manage their schedules to avoid getting too tired. But if you have medical conditions that affect your sleeping patterns, ability to sleep or cause you to fall asleep suddenly, they could cause problems. Narcolepsy and sleep apnoea are the biggest culprits, but medication that causes drowsiness can be an issue too. They might not be a deal breaker – but they will need to be investigated further.
The medical exam for HGV drivers will look at many other things, but these are some of the major categories that our drivers worry about before they go into the medical. The important thing to remember is this – none of these things, or any other condition, mean that you have an automatic ban on driving HGV’s. It simply means that you need to fall within a set of rules designed to keep drivers, other road users and cargo safe. You don’t have to be in peak physical condition – just reasonably healthy and safe behind the wheel. To find out more about what the medical exams entail, just get in touch with the team today.