In a report on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PSHO) has claimed that major failings by the DVLA in assessing people's fitness to drive has resulted in many vulnerable individuals being unfairly prevented from driving, sometimes for several years, as a result of ‘flawed decisions, significant delays, poor communication and complaint handling.’
As part of the report, evidence was examined from the Department for Transport’s Independent Complaints Assessors, the British Medical Association, the International Glaucoma Association, leading eyesight and vision specialists and many driving groups and charities.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the medical revocation of driver’s licences often resulted in significant prejudice including the loss of employment, isolation from friends and family as well causing considerable stress and frustration.
The report has also raised concerns that drivers who pose a genuine risk to the public and themselves, will keep their licences and continue to drive unless improvements are made.
The Ombudsman’s investigations found fault in the way that the Drivers Medical Group (DMG), (the part of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that considers whether drivers with a medical condition are safe to drive) operates. In particular it found:
- No evidence that proper standards or criteria were in place to enable the DMG to meet its required aim of road safety
- No attempt to relate medical conditions to the ability to drive safely
- A lack of assessment of condition specific risks and how those risks might affect road safety.
The report has made a number of recommendations and suggests that the DVLA:
- Make fitness to drive decisions in accordance with the law and guidance
- Operate an open and transparent decision-making process, so that the public can understand the reasons for decisions
- Take relevant factors into account and discount irrelevant ones
- Engage with the public and stakeholders so that there is clarity about the division of roles and responsibilities.