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Driving Fitness

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 28 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Fitness

A big part of being a safe driver is being fit to drive in the first place, and knowing when this is the case. If you have a condition that affects or is likely to affect your driving, you should inform the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), as this can make you a threat to other road users.

Don’t Drive when Tired

Driving when tired is highly dangerous, especially on long journeys. Take plenty of breaks and stop as soon as you feel tired or lacking in concentration. See our article on ‘Staying Alert Whilst Driving’ for more advice on this.

Eyesight

All drivers must be able to read number plates from 20 metres (66 feet) in good daylight. This is roughly five car lengths in distance. If you are short-sighted or long-sighted, you will probably need to wear your glasses or contact lenses to be able to see this clearly. If this applies to you, you are required to wear these whenever you drive.

Be aware that the police can ask any driver to take an on-the-spot eyesight test in good daylight if they have any suspicions that he or she may not meet the eyesight requirements for driving.

Don’t wear tinted glasses or lenses when driving at night or when visibility is poor, as this can impact on your ability to see clearly.

Drugs and Alcohol

Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs severely affects your judgement and perception skills. In addition, alcohol makes you feel invincible, blurs your awareness of what you can and can’t do, affects your ability to make sensible driving decisions.

Remember that alcohol will take time to leave your body. You need to factor this in before you get back behind the wheel. If you drink in the evening, you won’t necessarily be fit to drive in the morning. Likewise, if you drink at lunchtime, you are unlikely to be fit to drive in the evening. If you’re planning to drink, get a taxi instead of driving or arrange for someone to give you a lift.

Medication

If you’re taking medication, you may not be fit to drive. The instructions that come with your medication should indicate whether you should avoid driving after taking the medication, and if so, for how long. If the instructions don’t offer any advice, you might want to check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure.

Being fit to drive is an important component of being a safe driver. It’s your responsibility to know when it’s not safe for you to drive, and to avoid driving when this is the case. If you fail to do this, you are putting yourself and other drivers at risk. This can result in serious charges. For example, dangerous driving carries an unlimited fine, obligatory disqualification, penalty points and two years imprisonment. Driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs carries a £5000 fine, obligatory disqualification, penalty points and six months imprisonment (more if it’s a serious offence).

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