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Driving is one of the most challenging lifestyle issues for people with epilepsy. Unless you live in an urban area with mass transit, your ability to drive may determine such crucial matters as whether you can work and perform many daily activities on your own.
The lack of driving privileges is one of the major concerns of people with epilepsy. Seizures undoubtedly represent a potential source of accidents and injuries, and this justifies limitations on driving for people liable to epileptic seizures. Convincing evidence shows that in the absence of seizures (with or without treatment), the risk of accidents and injuries is clearly decreased and tends to be close to that of the general population.
Considering epilepsy’s wide range of severity, and the fact that two-thirds of people with the disorder can control their seizures through Epilepsy medication or surgery, getting behind the wheel is definitely possible for many.
What do the laws require?
Most countries mandate that a person must be seizure-free for six months to a year to obtain a driver’s license. A person may also have to submit a physician’s evaluation attesting to his or her ability to drive, and in some places complete periodic medical updates.
In some countries, a one-time seizure that occurs while physicians are adjusting a patient's medications would not disqualify that patient from getting or keeping a license. Also, some people with epilepsy only seize while sleeping. So while they are not seizure free, as long as they have never had daytime seizures they would be exempted from the seizure-free rule.
Do you have to reveal your epilepsy?
The only way the motor vehicle authority knows you have epilepsy is if you reveal it. Physicians advise that patients take the driving issue seriously. If your seizures are not under control, you could not only harm yourself by getting behind the wheel, but others as well. As thus, individuals with epilepsy are required to reveal that they have epilepsy to the relevant authorities whenever they are seeking a licence.
However, the case is mostly positive as epilepsy patients are informed on the importance of revealing their situation. “I am allowed to drive, but I have a close relationship with my doctor and I have promised her that I will not put myself or anyone else in danger,” confessed one of the patients during an interview. “I can tell when a seizure is coming on. I am very fortunate because they are well-controlled with medication.”
The patient’s responsibility
Epilepsy status is mostly self-reported, patients need to make responsible choices regarding whether they really should be on the road. For many, the ability to drive is intertwined with their ability to work and their independence. But if driving is dangerous, try to find other ways to get around.
Carpool or ask family or friends for assistance. Another choice is to move to an area with public transportation, or where you are close enough to walk to work. If none of these are feasible, have a frank talk with your doctor about whether anything more can be done to control your seizures.
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