Editorials

Epilepsy and driving

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6984.885 (Published 08 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:885
  1. Simon Shorvon
  1. Reader in neurology Institute of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London WC1N 3BG

    British regulations have recently been eased

    Many countries restrict the issue of driving licences to people prone to epileptic seizures. Regulations are deemed necessary because research has repeatedly shown an increased rate of road traffic accidents (and accidental deaths) in drivers with epilepsy.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    Ideally legislation should balance the excess risks of driving against the social and psychological disadvantage to people of prohibiting driving, but achieving this balance is difficult, and regulations vary widely among countries.8 In Britain the lifelong prohibition against driving enacted in the 1920s was changed in 1969 to permit those who had been free of seizures for at least three years to drive. In 1982 the seizure free period was reduced to two years (but remained at three years for people whose attacks occurred only during sleep). The law was later changed again, in January 1993 for vocational licences and in August 1994 for ordinary licences.

    To be eligible for a group 1 licence (an ordinary licence—that for motorcars and motorcycles) an applicant with epilepsy must have been free of epileptic attacks during the year before the date when the licence is granted (or, if epileptic attacks occur only during sleep, must have had a sleep only pattern for three years or more). In addition, his or her driving must …

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