Living with Parkinson’s can have an effect on many drivers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be stopped from driving.
This section covers:
- Driving and Parkinson’s
- Your legal responsibilities
- Assessing your ability to drive
- Car insurance
- Parking permits
- Applying for a parking permit
Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task that requires perception, good judgement and reasonable physical capability. Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s can make driving a motor vehicle even more challenging. These symptoms might include:
• Slowed movements
• Muscle rigidity
• Involuntary movements
• Motor fluctuations
• Concentration difficulties
• Difficulty with multitasking
The laws in Victoria and across Australia, require you to report to your driver licensing authority (VicRoads in Victoria, or Roads and Maritime Services in NSW), any permanent or long-term illness that is likely to affect your ability to drive safely. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s falls into this category. Failure to report a medical condition may put your safety and the safety of others at risk, and may also jeopardise your insurance cover.
Reporting a condition to VicRoads does not necessarily mean your licence will be taken away. VicRoads will ask your doctor to complete a medical report.
The medical report provides an assessment of your fitness to drive. To complete the report, your doctor will refer to a set of medical standards that describe the specific requirements for various conditions, including Parkinson’s. These standards can be viewed on line at www.austroads.com.au. VicRoads assesses each medical report on a case-by-case basis and then determines if a driving test is necessary.
If a driving test is needed it normally begins at your home address, with a VicRoads assessor. You will be asked to drive to places where you would normally go, and are tested on your ability to drive safely on your local roads. You are allowed up to three attempts at this driving test.
If you fail the driving test three times, you may be required to have your driving abilities formally assessed by an occupational therapist experienced in driving assessments.
More information is available from VicRoads. You can phone VicRoads on 13 11 71 or visit their website www.vicroads.vic.gov.au.
It is a legal responsibility that you report your diagnosis of Parkinson’s to VicRoads (or Roads and Maritime Services for NSW residents). If you do not notify VicRoads, it could affect your insurance coverage.
As well as notifying VicRoads, it is recommended that you notify your motor vehicle insurance company about your diagnosis. It is difficult to say how this will impact on your insurance premium as all insurers are different.
At diagnosis, it may be a good time for you to shop around to find the most competitive and comprehensive cover for you. Take time to read over your insurance policy to see what is included and excluded before taking out the policy.
If you have a complaint about an insurance company, you should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 78 08 08. The ombudsman can help to resolve disputes between consumers and insurance companies.
Parking Permits enable people who have certain disabilities to park closer to the shops and services they need to get to. Parking permits are issued for residents with physical or intellectual disabilities according to VicRoads guidelines.
A statewide Disabled Persons' Parking Scheme currently operates in Victoria. There are two permit categories with varying parking concessions, based on the applicant's need for assistance.
Application forms are available from Local Council offices and websites. Follow the instructions in the guidelines and fill in your form. Post or deliver your completed form to your Local Council.