What is a taxi driver medical?
A taxi driver medical is a medical assessment that every taxi or private-hire driver must complete before being granted their licence. In addition, if a current driver has suffered any heart conditions previously, a taxi driver medical (heart test) is required before they are allowed to drive a taxi again.
Why is it done?
The tests are done to ensure that drivers are well and safe enough to drive a private hire vehicle and maintain the safety of the public on the road.
The main heart conditions that are associated with drivers are heart disease and heart failure. Driving doesn’t require much physical activity so taxi drivers are a high risk group. Symptoms of heart disease or heart attacks include dizziness, faintness, and black-outs - all of which could cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle, putting them, the passenger and onlookers in danger.
In order to reduce the risk, this medical test is designed to monitor the cardiac health of drivers and therefore a doctor can tell you if you’re healthy enough to drive a taxi or not. A fitness certificate is given by the doctor to confirm this.
What happens during the test?
The doctor will normally take a sample of urine to check for diabetes and infection. If it shows as positive for diabetes, then further tests will be needed.
The doctor will also do the following:
- Check blood pressure and pulse
- Listen to the heart
- Check the driver’s movement
- Test hearing and vision
If the driver has suffered from a previous medical condition related to the heart then there may be additional assessments. The standard requirement is:
- Echocardiogram – this is a ultrasound of the heart to check the valves and muscles of the heart.
- Exercise treadmill ECG – usually the driver will have to walk on a treadmill while the speed is slowly increased. A doctor will closely monitor the heart and blood pressure to see how the body reacts to stress.
- 24 Hour ambulatory blood pressure – if the driver has had a stroke or a pacemaker implanted then this is usually required and the doctor will evaluate the heart rhythm over 24 hours.
- 24 hour ambulatory BP – a machine which is worn on the waistline over 24 hours. It takes blood pressure readings throughout the day.
After the test
The doctor will give a certificate to confirm to the DVLA that the driver is fit enough to drive a taxi. If the test wasn’t successful and the driver doesn’t fit the medical requirements, then it is obligatory to report this to the DVLA. A doctor will advise the patient on the next steps.
It is important that taxi drivers take care of themselves, even after a successful assessment. A combination of lack of exercise, poor diet and irregular working patterns can be detrimental to their health and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long-term.