Unfortunately, stress and depression have become a part of everyday life for many. An NHS study showed that in some areas “as many as one in six patients registered with GP practices are now recorded as having depression”1.
Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you can’t drive safely, but you might need to take extra care on the road to stay focused and make sure you don’t become too unwell to drive.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) requires drivers to inform them about certain illnesses to decide whether they’re eligible to keep their licence. A mental health condition can also affect your insurance policy2, as you’re required to tell about any pre-existing conditions affecting your driving when applying for cover.
How do I tell the DVLA about a mental health condition?
It’s difficult to evaluate your driving ability on your own. If you have any doubt about staying focused behind the wheel, speak to your doctor first.
If you’re a licence holder, you need to complete a medical questionnaire. You can download the form here.
What can I do to stay safe on the road when I’m stressed?
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Driving when tired can have the same effect as being over the drink-driving limit. Make sure you rest properly and consistently.. Sleep also has a big impact on your mood – it’s hard to feel stable and calm with low energy levels.
2. Plan your journey
If you’re not feeling your best, you can ease your journey by planning it in advance. It’ll be easier to focus on safe driving when you know where you’re going. Make sure you also plan in sufficient breaks, if your drive is long.
3. Consider other ways to travel
Safety comes first. If you’re not feeling well and have doubts about your ability to drive, just don’t drive. Ask someone to give you a ride or catch a bus, whatever it takes to get to your destination safely.
4. Get help
If you’ve been feeling low for a while or you know that you have a mental health condition, there is always help available. Talk to your friends and family, tell your teacher, go to your GP or reach out to charities for advice.
Never risk your life, or somebody else’s, by getting on the road while feeling unwell. Make sure you’re fit to drive.