Changes to medical requirements should make it easier for drivers to renew their licences.

The government has announced new rules that make it easier for bus and truck drivers to renew their licenses during the coronavirus pandemic. In a move the Department for Transport says will allow bus and HGV drivers to “continue their vital work and keep the country moving”, those needing to renew their licence will no longer need a doctor’s note.

Under existing rules, HGV and bus driving licences require a D4 medical, which includes eye tests and screening for diabetes. However, in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Transport (DfT) has decided that drivers with licences that have expired or are due to expire since January 1, 2020, no longer need the medical certificate.

Instead, the affected drivers will be able to receive a temporary one-year licence, providing they do not have any medical conditions that affect their driving. Drivers with health issues will still need to declare them, and those with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed.

HGV lorry with orange shipping container in motion on the road

The DfT says the new rules will “keep 30,000 drivers on the road each month”, as well as easing the pressure on NHS staff. According to the government department, those who would have been employed checking drivers’ health will now be free to work on the front line, tackling coronavirus and helping parts of the emergency services to do their jobs.

The government also says the move will help bus and truck drivers “continue their vital work”, keeping goods flowing to shops and allowing key workers to travel to and from their places of work. However, the DfT is at pains to point out the change is temporary, and will only apply to those drivers whose licences are due to expire or have expired since 1 January 2020. The licence will only be valid for just one year, after which the driver will need to submit a completed D4 when the licence is next due for renewal.

Double decker bus in London

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move would keep “critical” goods getting to workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak, as well as easing pressure on the NHS.

“With our NHS staff working around the clock to combat coronavirus, we are determined to help vital bus and lorry drivers support our incredible industry and keep Britain moving,” he said. “By temporarily relaxing the requirement to provide a doctor’s medical report as part of the bus and lorry driving licence renewal process we will ensure that those who are fit to drive can continue delivering critical goods around the country and getting workers to the front line. This will also help to ensure doctors and nurses can continue their crucial efforts to fight coronavirus.”