POLL: Should older drivers be forced to pay for DVLA medical checks to get a licence?
Older drivers may soon have to pay for driving licence medical checks with a new consultation asking whether a charge should be added.
The new fee could be issued to all motorists with a medical condition but elderly motorists over the age of 70 could be disproportionately affected.
Under the current rules, the DVLA pays the costs associated with medical background checks but costs have spiralled out of control.
In a call for evidence centred around driver licensing for people with medical conditions, the DVLA has asked whether the cost associated with medical investigations should be paid by taxpayers and DVLA.
They have also asked whether it would be “appropriate” for the individual customer to pay for medical investigations in relation to their fitness to drive.
The call for evidence closed in October meaning responses will now be analysed before further decisions are made.
The report reads: “Although DVLA aims to make 90 percent of licensing decisions within 90 days, this is becoming increasingly challenging as cases become more complex and more information is needed from third parties.
“In addition to this, the law provides that DVLA shall pay any fees associated with medical investigations. This includes paying a fee for the completion of each medical condition specific questionnaire, eyesight tests, drugs and alcohol screening tests (unless under HRO legislation) and examinations.
“The costs associated with gathering information to assess if an individual can meet the appropriate medical standards for driving has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from approximately £10million to around £20million per year.
“This reflects not only an increasing number of drivers with multiple health conditions but the complexity of those conditions.”
A DVLA chart shows costs steadily rose every year between 2013/14 and 2017/18 when fees doubled.
There was a slight drop in 2018/19 but this was eclipsed with an even bigger increase the following year with total costs now just under £25million.
Elderly drivers make up the bulk of the DVLA’s caseload with the most medical conditions among the 70-79 year olds.
Officials are reportedly dealing with over 14,000 single medical conditions and around 12,000 multiple medical conditions among this age range.
Those between the ages of 60-69 were the second highest age group followed by 50-59.
The rise in drivers having more than one medical condition as they get older creates other complexities for DVLA officials.
The report continues: “The myriad combinations of medical conditions (and medications to treat them) that are reported to DVLA, and their severity present a level of complexity that complicates the decision-making process when assessing driving fitness.
“Assessing multiple medical conditions is time-consuming as medical information is often needed from several doctors or healthcare professionals involved in a person’s ongoing care and treatment.”
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