South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has thrown his support behind a petition created by his constituent Ruth Hogg, who is asking the UK Government to digitalise the process for those with medical conditions reapplying for their driving licences.
Ruth said people with medical conditions are experiencing severe delays with the DVLA and digitalisation could help make a real difference to waiting times.
Ruth, who has epilepsy, is currently in the process of trying to reapply for her licence. However, she said the DVLA process for people with medical conditions to apply for their licence is archaic compared to ‘normal’ reapplications and means that she might not get her licence back for months after she would be entitled to it.
The DVLA told her they don’t anticipate opening the envelope containing her reapplication until mid-December and, following on from this, they need to investigate her fitness to drive. If the process was online, like other applicants have access to, this information would be on their system instantly, allowing the DVLA to start these investigations in a much more timely manner.
Colin met with Ruth in her Ayr home on Friday to learn more about the issues.
Ruth Hogg said: “‘My aim with this petition is to make reapplying for your driving licence as easy as possible for those of us living with chronic health conditions which can impact your capability to drive at various points throughout your life.
“As it stands, the DVLA process is not as accessible for those re-applying for our licences after a period of illness as it is for other users.
“By only allowing us to post the forms, rather than applying online, this can severely delay the process of getting your licence back – many service users with medical conditions are waiting months past their ‘entitled’ date.
“This impacts our working lives as well as our personal lives.
“The DVLA already has an online platform, this is a simple fix – extend the online platform to those of us with medical reapplications so that, when it’s safe, we can get back behind the wheel and back to normality as quickly as possible.”
Colin Smyth added: “I am very happy to support Ruth’s petition and it was great to be able to meet with her and fully discuss the issues that she and so many other people are currently facing.
“The DVLA is currently completely swamped and it makes no sense that some people are being forced to reapply for their licenses on paper while others can use the online system. People should have the option to use both methods.
“I would encourage everyone to take a look at Ruth’s petition and consider signing it, there is no reason why the system should be different for people with health conditions.”