Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Taking the HGV Medical Exam
11 May 2022
Under UK law, commercial drivers must be deemed fit and healthy, as there are certain HGV medical requirements, in order to legally drive on public roads. Every new driver must undergo an HGV medical examination made up of two parts – an interview regarding physical and mental health as well as a physical examination. This is accompanied by D4 paperwork that is submitted to the DVLA by the doctor responsible for the assessment. The examination is compulsory for all HGV, LGV, PCV, taxi and ambulance drivers, and it is up to the DVLA to determine whether you’re fit to drive – not a physician.
This article will discuss all aspects surrounding the HGV medical examination.
HGV Medical: What is Involved?
There are two parts to the HGV medical examination:
- Interview with a doctor – the first part will involve discussing any existing medical conditions that may affect your ability to drive safely, as well as your medical history. If any medical conditions not disclosed come to light in the future, you could face fines up to £1,000, and in some cases, you may even lose your licence.
- Physical examination – the second part will involve a doctor performing physical tests to check aspects like vision and sleep disorders.
HGV Medical Requirements
The medical examination typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes (although there isn’t a set time limit). Your doctor will also need to fill out a D4 Medical Examination Report which you can find on the government website.
During the physical examination, whilst general health will be assessed, there are certain areas that require more attention to ensure the individual meets the standards needed to drive commercial vehicles:
- Vision – eyesight requirements are stricter than they are for those who drive standard cars. The doctor will test visual activity as well as the total field of vision. HGV drivers must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 yards (with/without glasses or contact lenses). The vision requirements for lorry drivers must be at least 0.8 (6/7.5) in your best eye, and at least 0.1 (6/60) in your other eye (both measured on the Snellen scale). And if you happen to have lost vision completely in one eye, you may still be eligible to drive a commercial vehicle, should you pass the eyesight test.
- Neurological conditions – such conditions could hinder any driver, not just commercial drivers. The doctor will ask questions about a variety of neurological conditions from epilepsy to memory problems. However, a comprehensive list can be found here.
- Mental health – mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness when it comes to driving. The DVLA deem some types of anxiety, depression, and psychosis a danger due to agitation, and the possibility of sudden mood changes with drivers. Therefore, the doctor will want to discuss a variety of things such as depression, anxiety and any other psychiatric issues you may have confronted. If you have a mental health condition or are taking medication that may impact your driving, you need inform the DVLA. Other mental health illnesses you’ll need to tell the DVLA about include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and personality disorder, as these could potentially affect behaviour too.
- Heart conditions – anything such as a heart attacks, stroke, angina, coronary bypass surgery, pacemaker implant and implantable cardioverter defibrillator will have to be disclosed to the doctor. If your condition is being treated correctly, you won’t face any issues, however there will be some exemptions. For instance, driving will not be permitted within 3 months of having heart bypass surgery, or within 12 months of a stroke.
- Alcohol and drug usage – driving under the influence is strictly prohibited and you will face serious consequences if you do. You will undergo an HGV drug test where the doctor will examine for signs of alcoholism and drug abuse.
- Diabetes – this condition won’t stop you from becoming an HGV driver, as it’s a common illness, however you must be able to demonstrate that you’re able to manage it. This typically means you will be required to record twice-daily glucose testing, and if you have insulin-treated diabetes, the doctor will ask for glucose readings from the last 3 months.
- Sleep disorders – sleep deprived individuals tend to have more vehicle accidents and therefore the doctor will look for signs and symptoms of sleep disorders. Keep in mind, such conditions do not equate to immediate disqualification. As long as the sleep disorder can be managed, you should pass the HGV medical examination.
You can check the full list of medical conditions that could affect your driving.
Developing Medical Conditions in the Future
Once you acquire your HGV licence, if you should develop a medical condition in the future, you are required by law to report changes in health to the DVLA. This may mean that you need to undergo a new HGV medical examination in order to continue driving commercially. Depending on your circumstances, passing the medical assessment may result in the restoration of full driving privileges or a switch to a short-term licence. In either situation, you must continue to keep the doctor informed regarding the medical condition in question.
HGV Medical Cost
The DVLA has not mandated a fixed price for the HGV medical examination. However, some GPs may charge a fee, due to the extended time it may take to carry out the assessment. This is something that should be discussed with your GP when booking your appointment. You should also discuss this with your employer beforehand, as they may have a policy in place to cover part/all of the cost.
HGV Medical Renewal
You may be wondering do I need a medical to renew my HGV licence? In short – yes. Every time your licence is up for renewal, you will have to undergo a new medical examination.
An HGV licence in these categories is valid for five years:
Every five years up until the age of 45, you’ll need to sign a declaration to verify that you still meet the medical standards. After this, you’ll need to provide a medical examination report every five years in order to renew your driving entitlement. When you reach 65 years old, this will become yearly.
The HGV medical examination ensures that all commercial drivers are fit and healthy enough (physically and mentally) to safely operate their vehicles. It’s an excellent method of making roads safer not only for commercial drivers but for other road users and wildlife too. Whilst the medical requirements may make it seem as though your physical health must be perfect to acquire an HGV licence, don’t let this put you off a career in this field. As long as you have relatively good health, you should pass your HGV medical examination. Before you know it, you’ll be on the roads!
If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help kickstart your HGV career, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now.