Driving after hand surgery or hand injury
Can I drive?
As a driver it is your responsibility to ensure that you are fit to drive. You are accountable for your actions and decisions when driving. So when can you drive after hand surgery or after a hand injury? This is an important question to ask your surgeon. There is not always a simple question to answer, but there are some key things for Victorian drivers to consider.
You are not required to report temporary conditions to VicRoads. However, driving while you are affected by your injury may invalidate your insurance. Please discuss this with your insurance company if you wish to drive.
If you are unable to grip the steering wheel firmly you are not fit to drive. A plaster cast or splint will reduce your range of movement and may render you unfit to drive.
You must not drive for 24 hours after receiving sedation or general anaesthesia.
If the medications that you are taking affect your reaction time or your ability to think clearly then you are not fit to drive.
Vehicles, injuries and patients vary. Severity of injury, hand dominance, power steering and transmission type (manual or automatic) all impact upon your ability to drive with a hand injury. If there is a reasonable likelihood that you will be unable to control the vehicle and act or react to the driving environment, you are not fit to drive.
Do I have to notify VicRoads?
You are required by law to notify VicRoads if you have, or develop, a permanent or long term injury or illness that may affect your ability to drive safely. If you continue to drive and have a crash:
- you may be charged with driving offences and failing to notify VicRoads of your condition
- you may be sued under common law
- you may not be covered by your insurance
- there may be long term financial and legal consequences
Private vs. commercial vehicle drivers
Different standards apply for drivers of private and commercial vehicles. Professional drivers (such as bus and truck drivers) must meet higher medical standards because of the demands of their work, the extensive hours spent on the road and the likelihood of more serious consequences in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
A person who does not meet the health or medical requirements to drive a commercial vehicle may still be eligible to drive a private vehicle.
If you are not fit to drive but you continue to drive your doctor may notify the driver licensing authority directly if he or she feels that your condition poses a significant threat to public safety.
Permanent or long term injury
If you have a permanent or long term injury you may require an Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment to determine whether you are fit to drive. For more information on this please refer to the VicRoads Guide to Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment booklet.