Becoming an HGV driver is not a quick process. Nor is it easy – but that’s sort of the point. In order to gain your Driver CPC and subsequent HGV licenses, you will need to train for a certain amount of hours, go through multiple practical and theory tests and pass a medical exam. This medical exam is important, as it decides if you are fit and healthy enough to drive a heavy good vehicle professionally. It’s also the only bit you will need to repeat – you’ll need to have a fresh medical exam every 5 years to prove you are still fit and healthy. It can also be the difference between success and failure as a driver. So before you dive in, here are 3 things you need to know.
You Need to See a GP
This isn’t your standard check-in with a GP to see how you’re doing. In order to satisfy the DVLA criteria, you need to go through a rigorous health check and medical history with a GP or similarly licensed and approved private physician. They will need to go through some detailed paperwork with you, fill it in, sign it off and send it to the DVLA for approval. The results of the medical can decide your driving fate and are an important part of your driver training process. There are a lot of things covered in the exam, but the main points the doctor will cover include:
- General health
- Heart and cardiovascular health
- Mental health
- Nervous system problems
- Diabetes mellitus
- Sleep disorders
One thing the GP may focus on in particular is your vision. In order to pass the exam you will need to have adequate vision (either corrected or uncorrected) – with at least 6/9 in one eye and 6.12 in the other to pass. So you won’t be penalised for wearing glasses or lenses, as long as they are accurate for your vision. If you do need to wear glasses or lenses, you will need to wear them at all times when driving.
You Can Be Disqualified From Driving
Of course, not everyone is in perfect health, and there may be things in your medical history that you’re worried about. In some cases, it is possible to fail the medical. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in bad health or need to be worried – it just means that driving a heavy good vehicle all day every day is a good, or safe, idea. A few of the things that could lead to disqualification include:
- Mental disorders
- Visual impairment
- Risk of seizures/epilepsy
- Heart disorders
- Recent history of blackouts or unconscious episodes
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse
Don’t panic if you see something on this list you suffer from, or have a history of. While they are a factor in deciding disqualifications, it’s not an automatic thing. It’s up to the doctor you see to decide if you pose a risk to yourself or others on the road, and whether that risk warrants disqualifying you as an HGV driver, So go ahead and get the exam, because you never know!
It’s Not Always Free
We have a wonderful thing in the NHS. But when it comes to detailed medical exams for employment purposes, things get a little hazy. You see, there is no mandate (form the DVLA or otherwise) that says NHS practices have to offer the HGV driver medical exam for free. While most will, there is a change your surgery could charge a nominal fee to cover the time this in-depth exam takes. So, your medical exam might cost you. Check with your practice what the protocol is before you book. If it will cost you to have the exam done, you may decide to go down the private route and save yourself the typical NHS wait time.
Ultimately, the medical exam is there to make sure you and everyone else on the road will be safe with you behind the wheel. There is no automatic ban on being an HGV driver, even if you do suffer from one of the above conditions – it’s down to the professional judgement of your doctor. So if you are otherwise fit and healthy, it shouldn’t be a problem for you. If you are healthy enough to pass the medical, we would love you to consider training with us. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch today.
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