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There are many hoops to jump through when it comes to getting or renewing your HGV Drivers licence. Arguably the biggest hurdle among aspiring or experienced commercial Drivers hoping to secure or renew their licence is the HGV medical exam.
The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) requires HGV Drivers to be in reasonably good health to operate commercial vehicles on public roads legally. Read our comprehensive guide to the HGV medical exam, including medical requirements and steps you’ll need to take to complete yours.
Every new Driver must undergo an HGV medical exam with accompanying paperwork (D4) that is submitted to the DVLA by the Doctor who performs the examination. Experienced Drivers are also required to undergo a new medical exam every time their licence comes up for renewal.
An HGV licence in categories: C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E, is valid for five years. Every five years up to age 45, you’ll need to sign a declaration to confirm that you still meet the medical standards. After the age of 45, you’ll need to provide a medical examination report every five years to renew your driving entitlement.
The HGV medical is comprised of two parts:
1. Discussion with the attending Doctor: You will be interviewed by the Doctor, and have the opportunity to discuss any existing medical conditions that may interfere with safe driving. Your medical history will also be discussed.
2. You will undergo a physical examination: The Doctor will check your vital signs and vision etc. The entire exam usually takes no more than 30 minutes, during which the attending Doctor fills out an official DVLA form that he or she will submit directly to the authorities. You can request a copy of this form from the DVLA here.
A Driver will need to meet the following HGV medical requirements to receive approval from an NHS GP or approved private physician. The doctor fills out paperwork as the exam progresses, then signs and submits it to the DVLA on your behalf. A standard medical exam will check for the following health issues:
Impaired eyesight: All HGV Drivers must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 yards, either with or without glasses or contact lenses. If you do need glasses, your prescription needs to be no higher than +8, and your vision needs to be 160 degrees or above. If you’re not sure what your vision is like, make an appointment to see your optician.
Neurological conditions: Neurological problems can have serious consequences for any driver. A physician will examine the HGV student and ask questions relating to things such as epilepsy, seizures, blackouts, memory problems, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, narcolepsy and cataplexy, stroke, prior brain surgery, or any chronic neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis.
Mental health: HGV drivers must also be in good mental health. Doctors will want to discuss all sorts of mental health issues including depression, hospitalisation for psychiatric issues, dementia, cognitive impairment, etc.
Heart conditions: Any heart problems that aren’t being controlled and treated are going to raise red flags on a medical exam. That’s anything from heart attacks, angina, stroke and even atrial fibrillation. If your condition is being treated and managed properly, then there shouldn’t be any sort of issues, but there are some exceptions. For example, you can’t drive within 3 months of having heart bypass surgery, or within 12 months of a stroke or unexplained period of unconsciousness.
Diabetes: Diabetes is a very common illness and affects around 9.5% of the population, so it’s not something that’s going to stop you from becoming an HGV driver by any means. All you have to do is demonstrate that you can keep it under control. This usually means you will need to record twice-daily glucose testing, and if you have insulin-treated diabetes you’ll need your most recent 3 months of glucose readings stored on a personal meter, ready to produce on request.
Sleep disorders: A leading cause of serious accidents among HGV drivers is a lack of sleep. Therefore, the HGV medical exam includes looking for signs and symptoms of sleep disorders. This is one area in which candidates must be especially honest. A sleep disorder does not necessarily mean automatic disqualification. As long as the disorder can be managed, the candidate should be able to proceed.
Alcohol and drug usage: It is illegal to operate an HGV with drugs or alcohol in the system. Knowing that it is almost impossible for a chronic alcoholic or drug user to hold an HGV driving job. During the HGV medical, a doctor will look for any signs of chronic drug and alcohol use.
The DVLA does not mandate that NHS Doctors provide the medical exam free of charge. Therefore, some GPs may charge a nominal fee for the exam. Before setting up an appointment with your GP, it may be worthwhile to see if there is a cost involved and if so, consider an approved private physician with a reduced wait time. The average charge for an HGV medical is likely to be between £56-£63 including VAT.
Please be aware that with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine and inevitably a backlog of healthcare appointments, GP appointment waiting times may be longer and therefore HGV medicals will need to be booked in advance. Not having your HGV medical up-to-date will prevent you from taking on new work.
At Search Driving, we do more than just fill roles. We work closely with our drivers to support them as they undergo licence renewals and keep them informed of medical requirements. We also establish flexible shift patterns and a schedule that suits them, along with a competitive market rate and weekly pay. Find out more about the benefits of driving for Search and apply to our driving jobs today.
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