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
- Accessible parking permits
- Applying for a parking permit
You can also download this Parkinson's and Driving Fact Sheet to print out and read.
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 an on-road driving assessment is recommended, you will be assessed by a specialised occupational therapist (OT) who has an extra qualification as a driving assessor. The OT Driving Assessor will evaluate your ability to continue to drive safely, legally, and independently. They can also provide advice about how your Parkinson’s may impact on your driving and make recommendations for how to manage and monitor any issues identified.
Some possible recommendations may include periodic reviews, driving at certain times (daylight hours only, off-peak times), driving locally (within certain radius of home) or modifications to the vehicle (alternative controls). In more rare instances, if there are significant safety concerns, they can recommend a license suspension or cancellation.
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.
Accessible Parking Permits enable people with certain conditions, disabilities or impairments to park in accessible parking bays or to park in standard parking bays for double the time displayed on the parking sign.
In Victoria, there are three permit categories with varying parking concessions. Permits are issued in consideration of the applicant’s needs and in accordance with the state-wide Accessible Parking Permit Scheme.
You can apply as a driver, a passenger or as both.
The application process can be completed online and requires an assessment by a medical practitioner. For those without internet or mobile phone access, a paper-based version of the application can be obtained from your local council.
To learn more about your eligibility and to start the application process, visit the Accessible Parking website.