The HGV medical test is designed to ensure that a driver is medically fit and safe to drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle. Road safety is paramount for all drivers, however given the size and weight of an HGV, a driver must be able to prove that they are fit to drive the vehicle in order to ensure not only their safety but also that of all road users.
Medical standards required for drivers of vehicles in Group 2 (lorries, buses and minibuses) are higher than for drivers of vehicles in Group 1 (car and motorcycles) hence why the HGV medical test exists.
Before a driver is issued with their first HGV drivers’ licence, a driver must pass an HGV medical assessment, so let’s look at what is involved in the HGV medical test.
The HGV medical is a mandatory test for anyone wishing to gain and hold an HGV drivers’ licence. You cannot be issued with an HGV driving licence without first passing your HGV medical.
If you are under the age of 45 your HGV medical will last until your 45th birthday, after which you will need to pass the HGV medical assessment every 5 years until the age of 65.
After the age of 65 you will need to pass the HGV medical assessment every year.
There are additional requirements for those who hold restricted licences and also for NI, EU and EEA licence holders whose right to drive Group 2 vehicles in the UK has expired. There are also additional requirements for those applying for a new Group 2 provisional licence.
Specific details regarding HGV driver medical tests and when form D4 should be completed are available in this gov.uk document.
You should take your HGV medical at a doctor’s surgery or at an appointment with a doctor present. All General Medical Council (GMC) registered NHS GPs and most private doctors can carry out your HGV medical test providing they are licenced to practice in the UK or registered within the EU.
The test should be carried out at a pre-booked appointment. Whilst the examination is routine it can take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete.
There is a visual element of the test which may need to be carried out by an optician or optometrist. At the time of booking your HGV medical test you will be told whether your doctor can complete the visual element of the test or not.
Your HGV medical appointment will essentially involve the completion of the DVLA form D4. This medical examination report is available from the gov.uk website [link]. This is a routine examination and if you’re fit and well and have been honest at previous assessments (where you are seeking to renew your HGV medical) you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Firstly, you will have a discussion with your doctor about your general health. This is a good opportunity to mention anything you can think of that might be relevant which might not be covered in the later sections of the assessment. By relevant, we mean anything that you are aware of regarding your health that could interfere with your driving. Your medical history will also be discussed.
Your doctor will them complete the written assessment, the first element of which is a visual assessment. This may need to be carried out by an optician or optometrist. This series of questions and tests is purely to check that your eyesight is of an expected standard to allow you to drive a vehicle on the road. All HGV drivers must be able to read a number plate from 20 yards away, either with or without glasses or contact lenses. Any prescriptions, if used, must be below +8 and vision must be 160 degrees or above.
The third part of the test is the second section of the formal medical assessment and covers a number of sub categories, including:
a. Neurological conditions: neurological conditions can have serious implications for any driver. Your doctor will discuss any possible issues that you might have such as epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, seizures, memory conditions, blackouts or chronic conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis.
b. Mental health: HGV drivers must be in good mental health. The working conditions often require a driver to alone for long periods of time. Doctors will expect to discuss a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, dementia etc.
c. Heart conditions: heart conditions that are already diagnosed and managed by lifestyle and medication shouldn’t cause a problem at an HGV medical test. However, concerns could be raised if any unreported conditions came to light. There are some situations that would affect the outcome of the test. For example, you cannot drive within three months of having heart bypass surgery or within 12 months of a stroke or other unexplained period of unconsciousness.
d. Diabetes: having diabetes will not stop you from driving an HGV. It is a common condition affecting almost 10% of the population. If you do have diabetes you would need to be able to prove that the condition is under control. Your doctor would need to see evidence of your daily glucose testing or if your diabetes in insulin treated, your doctor would need to see your last three months of glucose readings.
e. Sleep disorders: a lack of sleep is a leading cause of serious accidents amongst HGV drivers. During your HGV medical your doctor will assess you for any evidence of sleep disorders. You really do have to be honest where sleep in concerned – a well-managed sleep disorder won’t disqualify you from becoming an HGV driver, but a poorly-managed sleep disorder could ultimately cost lives.
f. Alcohol and drug use: it is illegal to operate an HGV with any drugs or alcohol in the system. During your HGV medical the doctor will look for any signs of chronic drug or alcohol use.
There are other conditions that could prevent you from passing the HGV medical. Simply put, these are any conditions that compromise or impair your ability to safely drive an HGV.
Following your HGV medical your doctor will sign the completed form D4. You must send it to the DVLA with your driving licence (if you already have one) and/or application form where it will be reviewed, and a decision made to pass or fail you. If you pass your HGV medical, you will be issued with a D4 medical certificate.
The DVLA address is DVLA, Swansea. SA99 1BR. If you do not send all the forms together your application will be delayed.
The DVLA does not have a set fee for carrying out an HGV medical test, rather, the cost is set by individual doctor’s surgeries. Some surgeries do not charge a fee however most do to cover the cost of the extended appointment time that the test requires.
Many drivers find that the HGV medical is one appointment that is worth paying privately for as most NHS doctors have long waiting lists and still charge a fee. A private doctor may actually be cheaper and will usually be able to complete the form more quickly than their NHS counterparts.
It is often the case that a driver must meet any charge for having their HGV medical however some employers might have a policy in place to cover some or all of these fees. This would be a matter for discussion between you and your employer.
As mentioned previously, if you are under 45 when you have your first HGV medical and go on to pass your HGV driving test, then it will last until you turn 45 years old. After that you (and all existing lorry drivers) will need to renew your HGV medical every 5 years until the age of 65. From the age of 65 you will be required to complete one every year.
If you do not yet hold an HGV driver’s licence and you have just passed your HGV medical, you will have 4 months in which to take and pass your HGV driving test. If you do not pass your HGV driving test within this period, you will need to re-take your HGV medical.
It is important that you take three things with you to your HGV medical:
The DVLA stress that a driver is responsible for reporting any changes to their medical condition. If you develop a condition which may impact your ability to drive safely you must report it to the DVLA urgently. Failure to do so could lead to you facing a fine or prosecutions in you are involved in an accident.
Furthermore, the gov.uk website states that applications and licence holders have a legal duty to comply with the requirements of an issued licence including any periodic medical reviews indicated by the DVLA.
You should keep a note and keep track of when your medicals are due so that you are expecting your reminder letter from DVLA or so that you know you need to chase your reminder letter if it doesn’t arrive when you think it should.
The DVLA should send you a reminder letter along with form D4 every 5 years before your HGV medical is due.
Medical Examination Report for a Group 2 driver (lorry and bus) and useful information from GOV.UK
Medical Examination Report: Form D4