Intended for healthcare professionals


Driving after a first seizure

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 08 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6890
  1. Charles Warlow, emeritus professor of medical neurology
  1. 1University of Edinburgh, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK
  1. charles.warlow{at}

New evidence supports the relaxing of the rules

The number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents in the United Kingdom is low by international standards—about 27 000 in 2009.1 Part of the reason, albeit one that is difficult to quantify and probably not very large, is that some people are prevented from driving on the basis of their medical condition, a regulatory function carried out by the drivers’ medical group of the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency. This group also publishes and regularly updates the At a Glance Guide to the Current Medical Standards of Fitness to Drive,2 which sets out the rules. The linked study by Bonnett and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.c6477) provides data on the risk of recurrence after a first seizure and the implications for driving.3

Driving restrictions may be imposed because of a fixed disability (such as after head injury), a progressive disability (such as dementia), or an intermittent disability (such as epilepsy). For all disabilities, and particularly epilepsy, the size of the risk that society is prepared to take needs to be decided and weighed against the rights of the individual …

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