When you pass your practical driving test you sign a form. The form has a dual-purpose: 1. You agree to keep up to date with current driving laws and regulations, and 2. You agree to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about any changes to your health.
Anxiety is, of course, a quite normal feeling; we all get anxious from time to time. It can be a very helpful ‘tool’, especially when we need to be on our toes. But too many anxious thoughts or feelings can inhibit our ability to cope and respond appropriately to any given situation – especially driving. Rather like the beer or wine ‘monster’ that clouds our judgement following a night out, so feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, guilt or shame can also affect our decision-making behind the wheel. Angry drivers are something almost everyone has some experience of! With around 25% of drivers feeling stressed or anxious in some way, I suspect a great number haven’t informed the DVLA of how they are feeling…
Without giving you something new to worry about, the vast majority of anxious-drivers will probably be given the all-clear to drive. It certainly isn’t something to bother the DVLA about if you get the odd-panicky moment on the road, this is quite normal. So what are the DVLA interested in? Clinical Anxiety comes with a number of signs and symptoms, which many sufferers can (to a lesser or greater degree), experience: dizziness, headaches, migraines, palpitations, feelings of being ‘out of your body’, nausea, chest/muscle-pain and blackouts. Dizziness and blackouts are, of course, a very real danger when driving. There is also a tendency to turn to alcohol or drugs to help combat anxious feelings. Whilst an anxious person may not be a full-blown alcoholic, they may be consuming that extra G&T, can of beer or glass of wine without really noticing. Drugs and over-the-counter medications can also have an effect on our driving. Illicit drugs even more-so.
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, your GP should be at the top of your agenda. Please DO NOT self-diagnose! If like me you suffer from health-anxiety, trawling around the internet late at night isn’t going to help. Please see your GP and get it properly diagnosed. Help is available and non-clinical anxiety – stress – can often be remedied by taking simple steps like increasing exercise and lightening the daily load. If you are diagnosed with clinical anxiety, you MUST inform DVLA. The following link will help you to do so.