Is Autism really a High Risk Condition for Drivers?

Mary Donné training blog
Time to hang up your driving shoes if you have autism?

There is a story in the paper this weekend saying that people with autism are now required by the DVLA to inform them of their diagnosis.  This is a new development of which the NAS has just become aware. The change in policy – people with autism were not previously required to do this – was not communicated to any of the main charities or professional bodies supporting those with autism.  

The previous rule had been that autism was only reportable if it affected someone’s driving.  Now, DVLA are apparently requiring everyone with diagnosis to report it. If someone affected does not report their diagnosis, they risk a £1,000 fine or even prosecution if they are involved in an accident.

DVLA, meanwhile, seem to be taking the stance that the condition was always reportable anyway, and that they have simply, ‘realigned the advice on our A–Z guide for the public with the advice for medical professionals.’

To my mind, the real anxiety seems to be that there was no clear notice about what does in fact look like quite a big jump.  Going from, ‘you should only report your condition if it affects your driving’ to ‘you must always report it’ is a sweeping change, and potentially means that many people with autism are now driving illegally as they are unaware of the change.  Also, at what point does autism affect one’s driving? Who decides this? The answer is not clear.

Further, falling into what may now be considered a high-risk bracket (along with younger drivers, those with diabetes, etc) is surely going to push up insurance premiums for drivers with autism.  Is this really fair? Particularly when, up until a few months ago, they were not considered a high risk at all.

This decision, not surprisingly, is controversial.  Among others, MP Jess Phillips, is unhappy and has said she is going to refer the matter to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for guidance.  

This one definitely isn’t over yet.  

What do you think?  Should drivers with autism have to report their condition – even if there is no obvious impairment to their ability?


Author: marydonne

Training, Coaching, and HR Specialist.

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