Driving

Tumours, seizures, and certain treatments and medicines (such as anticonvulsants and some pain medicines) can change your vision, mobility, coordination, perception and judgement. These changes can affect driving skills and may make it unsafe for you to drive.

If you are diagnosed with any type of brain tumour, it is very important to ask your doctor how your condition or treatment will affect your ability to drive. When you are first diagnosed with a brain tumour, your doctor will probably advise you not to drive for a period of time. You probably also won’t be able to drive for some time after surgery and possibly after radiation therapy.

Before you start driving again, always check with your doctor. Laws in Australia require drivers to tell their driver licensing authority about any permanent or long-term illness or injury that is likely to affect their ability to drive. Your doctor can advise you if you should report your condition or if there are any temporary restrictions. The licensing authority may request information from your doctor to decide if you are medically fit to drive.

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Returning to driving

You may be referred to an occupational therapist driving assessor or to a neurologist or rehabilitation specialist to check your ability to return to driving. This may include doing an electroencephalogram (EEG) to assess your seizure risk.

An occupational therapy driving assessment can determine the type of problems you may be experiencing while driving (for example, a slow reaction time). The focus of the assessment is not to suspend or cancel your licence – it is to work out if it is possible for you to return to driving safely.

In some cases, an occupational therapist can teach you driving techniques to help with weaknesses or how to make changes to your car (such as extra mirrors). You may also be able to drive with restrictions, such as only in daylight, only in vehicles with automatic transmission, or only short distances from home.

Some people feel upset or frustrated if they have restrictions on their licence or can no longer drive. You may feel that you have lost your independence or be worried about the impact on your family. If you have to stop driving, the occupational therapist can provide you with alternative options. You may also want to talk to a counsellor or someone who has been through a similar experience. Depending on your situation and your health, it may be possible to return to driving at a later stage.

For more on driving assessments, talk to your doctor or see Assessing Fitness to Drive at Austroads.


Importance of following restrictions

It is very important to observe any licence restrictions. If your doctor has said you are not safe to drive again, you must not drive unless they change that medical decision. If you ignore the restrictions or drive unsafely, your licence may then be suspended or cancelled. If your licence has been suspended or cancelled, but you keep driving, you may be fined. In addition, if you have an accident while driving, you could be charged with a criminal offence and your insurance policy will no longer be valid.

  Debbie


This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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