Fitness to Drive:
Chapter 4 of the Road traffic Act states that a person does not qualify to hold a driving licence if he or she is suffering from one of the following diseases or disabilities:
- Uncontrolled epilepsy;
- sudden attacks of disabling giddiness or fainting due to hypertension or any other cause;
- any form of mental illness to such an extent that it is necessary that he or she be detained, supervised, controlled and treated as a patient in terms of the Mental Health Act, 1973 (Act No. 18 of 1973);
- any condition causing muscular incoordination;
- uncontrolled diabetes mellitus;
- defective vision ascertained in accordance with a prescribed standard;
- (vii) any other disease or physical defect which is likely to render him or her incapable of effectively driving and controlling a motor vehicle of the class to which such licence relates without endangering the safety of the public: Provided that deafness shall not of itself be deemed to be such a defect;
Every time anyone applies for a licence or renews their licence, they sign a declaration stating whether they have any of the medical conditions listed above. If any one of them is ticked, then that person requires a letter from a medical practitioner stating that the condition is controlled and they are safe to drive.
Cognitive Impairment / Mental Handicap:
There are no formal restrictions preventing a person from qualifying to drive due to a cognitive impairment or mental handicap. If they are capable of passing the learner’s licence test then they qualify to apply for the driving licence test and they will be required to practically demonstrate that they are capable of driving and controlling a vehicle without endangering the safety of themselves of the public.
Deafness does not disqualify a person from driving.
According to the South African Society of Occupational Medicine (SASOM), any individual who has had a single epileptic attack needs to be fit free for 6 months before returning to driving. If they have had multiple fits or a history of epileptic fits, they need to be fit free for a minimum of 1 year, up to 7 years depending on the type of epilepsy and their history. (More specific details are available from SASOM)