Table of Contents

2.2.3 Temporary conditions

This publication does not attempt to address every condition or situation that might temporarily affect safe driving ability.

There is a wide range of conditions that temporarily affect the ability to drive safely. These include conditions such as post major surgery, severe migraine or injuries to limbs. These conditions are self-limiting and hence do not impact on licence status; therefore, the licensing authority need not be informed. However, the treating health professional should provide suitable advice to such patients regarding driving safely, particularly for commercial vehicle drivers. Such advice should be based on consideration of the likely impact of the patient’s condition and their specific circumstances on the driving task as well as their specific driving requirements. Table 1 provides guidance on some common conditions that may temporarily impact on driving ability.

Table 1: Examples of management of temporary conditions

Condition and impact on drivingManagement guidelines

Anaesthesia

Physical and mental capacity may be impaired for some time post anaesthesia (including both general and local anaesthesia). The effects of general anaesthesia will depend on factors such as the duration of anaesthesia, the drugs administered and the surgery performed. The effect of local anaesthesia will depend on dosage and the region of administration. The use of analgesics and sedatives should also be considered.

In cases of recovery following surgery or procedures under general or local anaesthesia, it is the responsibility of the surgeon/ dentist and anaesthetist to advise patients not to drive until physical and mental recovery is compatible with safe driving.

  • Following minor procedures under local anaesthesia without sedation (e.g. dental block), driving may be acceptable immediately after the procedure.
  • Following brief surgery or procedures with short-acting anaesthetic drugs, the patient may be fit to drive after a normal night’s sleep.
  • After longer surgery or procedures requiring general anaesthesia, it may not be safe to drive for 24 hours or more.

Post surgery

Surgery will impact on driving ability to varying degrees depending on the location, nature and extent of the procedure.

The non-driving period post-surgery should be determined by the treating health professionals based on a consideration of the requirements of the driving task and the impact of the surgery on the capacity to undertake these tasks, including responding to

emergency situations. Practical driver assessment may be helpful in determining fitness to drive (refer to section 2.3.1 Practical driver assessments).

Pregnancy

Under normal circumstances pregnancy should not be considered a barrier to driving. However, conditions that may be associated with some pregnancies should be considered when advising patients. These include:

  • fainting or light-headedness
  • hyperemesis gravidarum
  • hypertension of pregnancy
  • post caesarean section.

A caution regarding driving may be required depending on the severity of symptoms and the expected effects of medication.

Seatbelts must be worn (refer to Appendix 7: Seatbelt use).

Temporary or short-term vision impairments

A number of conditions and treatments may impair vision in the short term, for example, temporary patching of an eye, use of mydriatics or other drugs known to impair vision, or eye surgery. For long-term vision problems, refer to Part B section 10 Vision and eye disorders.

People whose vision is temporarily impaired by a short-term eye condition or an eye treatment should be advised not to drive for an appropriate period.

Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

While deep vein thrombosis may lead to an acute pulmonary embolus there is little evidence that such an event causes crashes. Therefore there is no licensing standard applied to either condition. Non-driving periods are advised. If long-term anticoagulation treatment is prescribed, the standard for anticoagulant therapy should be applied (refer to Part B section 2.2.8 Long-term anticoagulant therapy).

Private and commercial vehicle drivers should be advised not to drive for at least two weeks following a deep vein thrombosis and for six weeks following a pulmonary embolism.