Tumours, seizures, brain surgery and medicines (such as anticonvulsants and some pain medicines) can affect the skills needed to drive safely.
Learn more about:
What skills can be affected?
Skills that can be affected may include:
- good vision and perception
- ability to concentrate and plan
- ability to remember directions
- good hand–eye coordination
- planning and problem solving.
Restrictions on driving
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 won’t be able to drive for some time after surgery and possibly after radiation therapy.
If you have had seizures, you will need to be seizure-free for a period of time before you are allowed to drive. If you stop taking your anticonvulsant medicines, you will also need to be seizure-free for a period of time until you are allowed to drive.
Before you start driving again, always check with your doctor. Laws in Australia require drivers to let their driver licensing authority know about any permanent or long-term illness or injury that is likely to affect their ability to drive.
Your doctor can tell you if you should report your condition or if there are any temporary restrictions. The licensing authority may ask for information from your doctor to decide if you are medically fit to drive.
See below for some things that may help you return to driving.
- Have a driving assessment to check your ability to return to driving. This may include doing an off‑road assessment or having an electroencephalogram (EEG) to assess seizure risk.
- See an occupational therapist driving assessor, a neurologist or rehabilitation specialist to work out the type of problems you may be experiencing while driving (e.g. 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 safely return to driving.
- An occupational therapist may be able to teach you driving techniques to help with weaknesses or show you 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 automatic cars or only short distances from home.
- Some people feel upset or frustrated if they have licence restrictions or can no longer drive. You may feel that you have lost your independence or be worried about the impact on your family. It may help 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 later on.
- Follow any licence restrictions. If your doctor has said you are not safe to drive, you must not drive unless they change that medical decision. If you ignore the restrictions, your licence may be suspended or cancelled. You may be fined if you drive while your licence has been suspended or cancelled. If you have an accident while driving, you could be charged with a criminal offence and your insurance policy will no longer be valid.
- For more information, talk to your doctor or visit Austroad’s Assessing Fitness to Drive. If you live in NSW, visit NSW Government.
I had a craniotomy for a benign brain tumour, but they couldn’t take all the tumour out. Later I had radiation therapy. Part of the tumour is still there, but it is stable, so I have been able to return to work and I can now drive again.Debbie
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
A/Prof Lindy Jeffree, Neurosurgeon, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Emma Daly, Neuro-oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cabrini Health, VIC; A/Prof Andrew Davidson, Neurosurgeon, Victorian Gamma Knife Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Department of Neurosurgery, Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC; Beth Doggett, Consumer; Kate Fernandez, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Melissa Harrison, Allied Health Manager and Senior Neurological Physiotherapist, Advance Rehab Centre, NSW; A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; A/Prof Eng-Siew Koh, Radiation Oncologist, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital and University of New South Wales, NSW; Andy Stokes, Consumer.
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