Drivers need to understand the duty that they have to disclose their physical and mental problems and operators need to do all they can to discover if their drivers have problems, DrivingDefences.com has reported,Ok, most people would say that they knew that already, but just where the line is of reporting and action can be quite hard to spot.
All drivers have a duty to disclose any aspects of their physical health and wellbeing that might have an impact on their driving ability. Evidence that the duty of disclosure is not being adhered to is contained in the tragedy of the Glasgow bin lorry driver, Harry Clarke, who failed to disclose his medical history of 40 years of ill-health, including fainting fits. He was employed in the position of bin lorry driver, and as widely reported, passed out at the wheel on 22nd December 2014. The lorry ran down and killed 6 people, injured many more, and left an indelible scar on the lives of a wide circle of friends and families of the dead and wounded.
One remarkable aspect of this case is that the Crown decided not to prosecute Harry Clarke for causing death by dangerous driving, a move described as ‘utterly perplexing’ by legal experts. Mr Clarke had completed a medical questionnaire in 2010 before being employed by Glasgow City Council, which specifically asked the applicant to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question of whether they had experienced depression, anxiety, light-headedness or fainting. He presumably answered ‘no’ otherwise he would not have been put into his first role as the driver of a school bus. In fact, he had seen his doctor in 1976, complaining of anxiety, dizziness and nervousness, and in 1989 and 2010 he had suffered blackouts.
Mr Clarke cannot possibly have been unaware that he was medically unfit to drive, and he failed to disclose his medical condition to his employers or the DVLA, who would probably have revoked his licence. The rule of disclosure is of course not limited to PSV and HGV drivers, or drivers of other commercial vehicles; private motorists have the same obligation. The problem is that a collision between two cars is rarely as dramatic and potentially damaging as incidents involving PSVs and HGVs, due to the sheer weight and size of the vehicles, and in the case of a public service vehicle, the sheer numbers of people involved.
Whether you are a driver, or operate a business that employs drivers, it is essential that each and every person on the road is physically fit and capable of being in such a responsible position. As an employer, it is recommended that you carry out an immediate review of your policies on employee medical history disclosure and reference checking. If you are working as a driver (in any capacity), it is essential to ensure you make a full disclosure of all relevant details from your medical past, both for your own protection and the protection of other road users. The duty of disclosure is there specifically to help drivers and operators to avoid further tragedies of this type from occurring.