Driving and Parkinson's
Surrendering your driver license is like surrendering your independence – but unfortunately, that time must come at some point in your Parkinson’s journey.
It is important to remember that Parkinson’s can affect your ability to self-evaluate. Therefore, it is a good starting point to discuss your driving with your caregivers and your doctor. They may have a different perception of your driving skills.
In the early stages of Parkinson’s, you have the option to modify your driving habits to address the physical and cognitive changes you are experiencing. For example, you can adapt by driving shorter distances and avoiding peak hour traffic and night driving. Or if you drive a manual car, it may be sensible to convert to an automatic instead.
However, as your condition progresses, issues may develop which could result in impaired driving performance.
It is recommended that you inform your insurance company of your Parkinson’s diagnosis – however it is not mandatory. In some cases, failure to disclose this information may result in your insurance being cancelled.
Driving, Parkinson’s and Medications
Just as sight-impaired people must wear their glasses when driving, people living with Parkinson’s must take their medication as prescribed when driving.
It is not always possible to predict, but some medications can affect driving ability. Reactions to medications vary between individuals and you may not realise that a medication is affecting your driving.
Therefore, when starting to take a new medication, check with your doctor and pharmacist that it is safe to drive.
Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) Requirements
NSW law requires the holder of a driver licence to notify, as soon as practicable, the RMS of any long-term injury or illness that may impair their ability to drive safely.
The RMS must be satisfied that all licence holders are medically fit to drive. A licence holder can be directed to have regular medical examinations because of a medical condition.
When you report your illness, it does not necessarily mean that your licence will be taken away. It does mean that the RMS can work with you and your doctor to manage your condition with respect to your driving.