An open letter to the DVLA

To whom it may concern,

I have been informed that because I am diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder I am required to disclose this to the DVLA.

If I do not disclose this information I may face a fine of up to £1000 and prosecution if I am involved in a motor-vehicle accident.

I found this information out via the social media platform Twitter and was shocked that this had not been more widely communicated to the general public. I have been diagnosed with ASD for four years now and was unaware of this requirement. Had I had a road traffic accident I could have gotten in some serious trouble.

After hearing about this requirement I began to look into it myself…

On the DVLA website page for ASD and driving it reads, ‘You must tell DVLA if you have an autistic spectrum disorder

On the DVLA website page for anxiety and driving it reads, ‘You must tell DVLA if you suffer from anxiety and it affects your ability to drive safely‘.

I would like to ask why on the page for ASD and driving it does not read, ‘and it affects your ability to drive safely‘? ASD is a spectrum of traits, many of these traits will make people on the spectrum very safe drivers. Why is it mandatory for us to report our condition, despite it being a non-existent factor for many who drive?

I passed both my theory and practical driving tests first time in 2014. I have been driving daily for the past five years. For three of those years I commuted an hour to and from work each day on what was named, in 2013, the ‘most dangerous road in Britain’. I am lucky that I am one of the 16% of autistic adults in the UK in full-time employment. This would not be possible without my driving license and car. I am unable to take public transport as it causes me sensory overload and I find it extremely difficult to understand transport schedules, both of these anxiety triggers are a result of my ASD.

I have been responsible for zero accidents and my black box scores have always been above 90% in all areas.

I expect this to be enough information to prove that I am safe to be on the roads and that my ASD has no effect on my ability to drive. Yet, because of my diagnosis I am required to inform the DVLA and could face a mental examination or another driving assessment – both of which I would find very distressing due to my ASD.

I have filled in the M1 form which I downloaded from the DVLA website and became more confused as to why it is necessary for me to disclose my condition. The form asked me to state my diagnosis, I wrote ‘high-functioning ASD’. The form then went on to ask if I have abused alcohol or drugs, had a seizure or a psychiatric assessment. At no point was there a question directly relating to the effects of Autism and how I believe it does, or in my case does not, effect my driving.

This form which I downloaded from the DVLA ASD and driving website page had no relating questions to my diagnosis. How can the DVLA judge if I am fit to drive from just the name of my diagnosis?

I am worried. I presume my form will be sent to an office where an employee, with no knowledge of ASD, will tick the box for my condition and this will then inform them how to proceed with my disclosure. It won’t matter that I am high-functioning, in full time employment or have held my driving license for five years. The name of my diagnosis will put me into a category which may cause actions to be taken against me.

This is how the government deals with Personal Independence Payments and this is why many on the spectrum sadly miss out, despite them desperately deserving the benefit payments.

When will the government stop the ignorance and learn about Autism and how to treat us like individuals?

I have reluctantly completed the disclosure form and posted it today. I await my response anxiously. Should the outcome be negative I will take action. The discrimination needs to end.

Regards,

Billie-Jade

*UPDATE: the DVLA have since amended their wording, ‘You must tell DVLA if your autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) affects your ability to drive safely.

I am overjoyed about the DVLA’s correction. Regardless, I am going to keep this post up to convey the upset and distress misunderstanding and discrimination of ASD can cause for the community.

One thought on “An open letter to the DVLA

  1. Amanda Guess

    👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 You go girl
    After having a car accident when i was seventeen aweek before i was due to take my test! Made me a nervous passenger & took away alot of my confidence, we i have beening a passenger beside you i feel very safe & relaxed which doesn’t happen often!!
    Thank you!!! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s