HGV Medical failure

In my experience as a HGV medical examiner, I find that about 20% of people coming through for an HGV medical do not reach the required standard for safe driving.

Dr Stephen R Walton NHS – General Practitioner
Stonecroft Medical centre, Sheffield

  • Vision — Mostly it is the eye-sight requirement that trips most people up. A slow deterioration in your eye-sight can easily go un-noticed.
    Fortunately, on most occasions, the eye-sight standard can be reached using an appropriate pair of glasses.
  • Diabetes — Truck drivers are more prone than average to diabetes due to inactive lifestyles, haphazard eating habits and commonly being overweight.
  • High blood pressure — Often a problem during the medical exam due to anxiety, but fortunately the DVLA appreciate this and allow for it. If the standard is not met you will be advised to get investigated for it. Usually BP will settle treatment is not needed unless it genuinely persists above target.
  • Heart disease — the guidelines here are quite tight and specific. It would be very unusual to detect a new problem in a routine medical.
  • Drugs / alcohol — Fortunately HGV drivers tend to be very clean in this respect.

The typical HGV driver is male, age 25-50. It is well known in medical practice that people in this age-sex group rarely attend the doctor for any reason. Such people assume they have good health and also tend to be behind on eye examinations also.

To continue to be an HGV driver you need to be in good health.

At the end of a typical HGV medical, the most commonly issued advice is:

  • Stop smoking —Cigarettes are a real career shortener! — You will not make it to retirement at 65 with your licence in-tact if you are a smoker!
  • Exercise — Even a small amount of exercise regularly will help. Try to find just a few minutes 2 to 3 times per week for vigorous exercise.
  • Weight — The approach must be through diet and exercise. Cutting out things that contain sugar should be the first step, followed by a low carbohydrate diet. The 5:2 diet is popular with men, in particular. the fasting days would preferably be days when you are not driving.

Your own GP surgery may be able to offer an health MOT. This is being pushed out to anyone aged 40 -75 and it is well worth getting the check-up which includes blood tests such as cholesterol and sugar.


Written by Dr Steve Walton