One of the most frequently asked questions both in psychology consultations and when obtaining and renewing a driving license is the extent to which being diagnosed with a mental illness can affect driving or whether it restrictively affects licensing.
It is important for safe driving to maintain the mental and physical faculties at optimum levels that encourage attention, concentration and reaction to stimuli that may appear while driving. That is why mental disorders affecting these facets may be subject to review by a specialist and may be approved, contraindicated or restricted for driving if they can pose a risk to road safety. However, it will always depend on a report issued by a doctor (doctor or psychologist) who may, on the basis of the established criteria, allow the obtainment or extension of the driving permit or license.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Psychic illnesses are increasingly on the rise in our society, without any distinction, so they are becoming a real epidemic. Stress or depression are affecting general population more and more, and there is no doubt that they are diseases that have an incidence on those who are drivers.
There are generally three distinct blocks of mental disorders that could affect driving:
- Those that involve cognitive impairment, memory loss, attention or concentration. (Delirium, dementia, cognitive disorders, ADHD or IQ less than 70).
- Those that entail loss of contact with reality, incoherence or associative capacity, as well as sleep disorders due to absence or sudden uncontrollable appearance (schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, delusional disorders, psychotic disorders, narcolepsy or incapacitating insomnia).
- Those that involve mood or personality disorders that imply risk both for oneself and for others (severe depression with a risk of suicide, personality disorders that involve antisocial behaviour with a risk for safety or intermittent aggressive explosive disorders).
Categorization of accident types in which psychological factors are affected
- Irresponsible driving: Children in the front seat, vans with goods, talking while driving, smoking, ingesting drugs, alcohol or drugs while driving, etc.
- Aggressive driving: Running on public roads, sudden changes in speed, overtaking without maintaining distances, etc.
- Discourteous driving: Not properly indicating turns, stops, overtaking, not giving lights during the night, etc..
- Incorrect position: driving in the wrong lane, not giving way, not paying attention to signals, etc.
- Obstructive driving: Drivers who go for a walk, slow drivers who don’t give way, traffic jams, etc.
Self-sufficient driving: Not giving preference to passing, fast vehicles, etc.
- Driving with restricted visibility: Driving after ingesting drugs or drugs, poor visibility on the road due to rain or fog, overtaking in changes of level, etc..
- Careless driving: Close the road and make manoeuvres difficult, do not use rear-view mirrors.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving is one of the factors that cause the most traffic accidents. A very common indicator is the honking, gestures and exaggerated comments. These aggressive manifestations are shown by all types of drivers and not only those with special aggressive traits.
To conclude, it is important to note that the fact of having a diagnosis of these mental disorders or some of their symptoms does not necessarily preclude being able to drive, remaining, at last instance, in the decision and criterion of the physician.