The HGV medical test, as the name suggests, subjects HGV drivers to a thorough medical interview and examination process to see whether or not they’re fit to drive heavy goods vehicles. Given the demands of the job – which involves extended journeys over long distances (domestic and continental) – it is essential to ensure as much as possible that drivers’ overall health is robust.
Q: Are HGV medical tests mandatory?
A: Yes. HGV drivers are obliged to undertake a medical exam (complete with accompanying paperwork known as the D4 form) each time their HGV licence comes up for renewal. While the examination will be undertaken by a doctor (whether a GP or a private doctor), it isn’t the doctor who makes the decision as to whether or not a driver is fit to drive an HGV. This decision is ultimately the responsibility of the DVLA. All the doctor does is fill out the D4 form and sends it on to the DVLA. Drivers can download a D4 form here.
Q: What does the HGV medical exam actually entail?
A: The medical test is in two parts. The first of these is an interview between the doctor and the driver who is the subject of the test. In this interview, the doctor asks the subject of the test about any pre-existing medical conditions (including mental health issues) they have which might have some bearing on their ability to drive. Drivers are obliged to be open and honest about their health under interview. Drivers with conditions which they are aware of and fail to declare when interviewed, and which later come to light following an accident or other violation, could face serious sanctions.
The second part of the test involves the actual medical examination. The doctor conducting it will examine a range of aspects relating to the subject’s physical health including blood pressure, heart, vision and testing for diabetes. The overall length of the exam will depend on the nature of your medical history; the more complicated it is, the longer the exam will take.
Q: Can I take the HGV medical exam before I pass my HGV driving test?
A: Yes. Once you’ve obtained the D4 medical certificate, it’s valid for four months – which gives you 16 weeks to pass your HGV driving test. For those renewing an existing licence, you should expect to receive your renewed licence within three weeks of sending your completed D4 form to the DVLA.
Q: Can people with diabetes hold an HGV licence?
A: Yes, but there are restrictions in place on which people with diabetes are fit to drive an HGV. For example, if you’re managing diabetes with insulin injections, you’ll need to obtain an annual statement from a diabetes consultant to verify that your diabetes is effectively under control and is being continually monitored. Those managing diabetes through the use of tablets will also be required to prove that their condition is under control, but the exact methods of doing so will vary depending on the exact medication the individual concerned is taking.
Q: Can people who need glasses or contact lenses hold an HGV licence?
A: Yes, provided they have good vision when using their glasses or contact lenses. However, DVLA rules stipulate that people undergoing an HGV medical examination should have their eyesight tested without glasses or contact lenses as well.
Q: Can mental health problems disqualify people from driving a HGV?
A: Not automatically. There are, however, clear safeguards in place in order to ensure that those who have experienced mental health problems are safe to drive a HGV. For relatively minor mental health issues – those not involving memory or concentration problems, severe anxiety or suicidal thoughts – drivers are not required to tell the DVLA about them provided any medication they’re taking doesn’t interfere with their ability to drive. However, in cases of more severe mental illness the DVLA can deny new applications or suspend drivers’ licences once they’ve earned them until it can be satisfied that the person affected has been mentally stable for a period of at least six months. The most serious conditions may result in HGV licences being suspended for several years. Furthermore, the DVLA will want to be satisfied that such drivers are also not taking medication which might hamper their concentration and driving abilities.