Driving and cancer - Maggie's Centres

Driving and cancer

Cancer, or the drugs used to treat it, can affect your ability to drive. You should check with your Doctor or  specialist nurse and your insurer,  you may  also need to contact  the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about some conditions.

Not being able to drive can affect many areas of your life. The information below will help you find out more about  driving  when you have cancer, and managing practically and emotionally if you are unable to drive during or after treatment.

Some treatments, the cancer itself and the drugs you are prescribed can all affect you ability to drive.

Often this is just temporary and it is legal for most people with cancer to drive. However, you should check this with your doctor or specialist nurse.

It is important to check for your individual condition and also with your insurance policy as your insurance may not be valid if you fail to tell the insurer of changes in your health or about treatments you are having.

You may find that even if you are allowed to drive, you are too tired to drive yourself home after appointments or treatments. 

If there are medical reasons that make  wearing a seatbelt, as a driver or as a passenger, in a car difficult you can get medical exemption. 

There are some conditions that you must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of as they require you to give up your licence either temporarily or permanently. 

Conditions that you must legally report include:-

  • Being diagnosed with a brain tumour or brain secondaries (metastases) or having a fit
  • Undergoing treatments or experiencing a weakness that affects your daily activities.
  • Taking medication which may affect your ability to drive safely.
  • If your doctor says you may not be fit to drive

You can  check which health conditions affect your ability to drive  from the GOV.UK website and by contacting your GP, hospital doctor or specialist nurse.

Managing the effects of not driving

Not being able to drive  may affect many areas of your life. You may need help getting children to or from school or other activities, you may not be able to get to work or your work may involve driving, you may also have difficulties attending hospital or GP appointments.

Not having access to a car may also limit your feelings of freedom and independence and your ability to attend social events.

You can drop into any Maggie’s Centre or join in our online forum talk to our visitors and professional support staff about the challenges you are experiencing and get support and advice. Our benefits advisors can also help you to access any grants or allowances you may be entitled to help with additional costs. 

Help with transport

Travelling by public transport may sometimes be difficult or expensive or perhaps take much longer than driving would have done. Your condition may also mean it is difficult for you to manage long journeys without a break - for example, if your cancer or the treatment means that you may need the toilet urgently, or if it is painful to sit for a long time.   

Many areas offer voluntary transport schemes which can help and there may be passes/grants to help with public transport or taxi fares if you need them.  Some charities offer transport for hospital or GP appointments. You may also be able to receive help with parking , petrol and road tax costs  or accessing  alternative modes of transport,  for example, a motability scooter.  Your hospital team, GP or local council should be able to help you to find out more about what is available in your area.

If you have limited mobility, or have been told your cancer isn’t curable, you may be entitled to a blue badge . You can use this to allow you to park  closer to your destination whether you are a driver or a passenger in a car (The badge is issued to you not the vehicle).

If you are used to being independent it can be difficult to ask for help. There are often friends and family who are wanting to  offer practical help and waiting for you to give them a specific role eg. picking up children or helping you get to an appointment or to the shops.  There are several apps/websites you can use  where you can request help with tasks and your friends/family can opt in when they are able to help. 

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