Driving with Dizziness is Against the Law
The one important thing to remember about driving after vertigo treatment is that first and foremost, the law restricts people who are subject to vertigo attacks from driving. I suggest you talk to your doctor and review the laws wherever you live, to find out what the rules are about driving after you have been treated for vertigo.
If you are dizzy at all or recovering from a vertigo attack, then driving should be avoided.
Don’t ever drive if you are too dizzy because you or someone else could get seriously injured.
If you get dizzy while driving, you should pull over to the side of the road and call someone for help.
Another option in lieu of driving after vertigo treatment is to get a ride with a friend or family. You can also take a cab, use a ride-share app, or use public transportation if you cannot find a ride.
There are always risks involved in riding with strangers especially when you are not feeling 100%. The best scenario is when someone you know and trust can drive you.
Precautions and Tips
Many patients who I treat for BPPV ask me what they should do when they are feeling recovered and they want to begin to drive again. The discussion about driving comes up with most of my patients after they have successfully recovered from vertigo.
I advise them on these tips that I have gathered over the years as my patients have resumed driving after vertigo treatment is completed.
The First Trip After Vertigo is Resolved
If you’ve had successful treatment for vertigo and you have gotten clearance from your healthcare provider, you may be ready to resume driving after vertigo treatment.
I do not recommend driving right after vertigo treatment because I have heard of patients getting into car accidents on the way home from a Vestibular physical therapy session.
That is one of the reasons I offer house calls for my patients. Once my patients have completed their vertigo treatments, they may feel fine the next day and are ready to drive.
I always advise my patients to watch out for two specific things that commonly cause problems with driving after vertigo treatment.
Things to Remember When Driving after Vertigo Treatment is Completed
Caution: Stop Signs
The first thing to be cautious about is looking side to side quickly while at a stop sign. The best thing is to move your head slowly from side to side while at a stop sign. That way you can be sure that the side to side motion is not making you dizzy.
If looking side to side at stop signs is making you dizzy, then chances are you should not be behind the wheel. You will most likely need another session of Vestibular Physical Therapy.
Caution: Checking your Blind Spot
The second thing to be cautious of when driving after vertigo treatment is when you’re changing lanes. You have to look over your shoulder to check your blind spot. You must be sure that quick turns to look over your shoulder and back are not making you dizzy.
If checking your blind spot is making you dizzy, then chances are you should not be driving. You will likely benefit from another session of Vestibular Physical Therapy.
I always give my patients two additional tips.
Tip: Set up Your Mirrors
I always suggest for people to set up their mirrors very well to minimize head movements while driving. The side mirrors and the rearview mirror must be adjusted for maximum visibility. Make sure you use your mirrors very efficiently, so you can keep your head mostly still.
Tip: Use your GPS
One final thing that is helpful when driving after vertigo treatment is to go ahead and set your GPS. Even if you’re going somewhere that you all the time, using your GPS can help just in case you get a little bit scared or space out. That will reduce your stress knowing that your GPS is guiding you.
The decision to drive after recovering from vertigo is a very important and serious decision. Be sure to consult with your healthcare providers to get cleared before getting behind the wheel.
Roads to Avoid
Certain roads can be more difficult than others for people who have recently recovered from vertigo.
Avoid roads that have no shoulder to pull over, if you start to feel dizzy.
For example, a single lane road with only a guard rail along the edge of a lake and no shoulder is not a good choice for your route.
Avoid driving on mountain passes and switchbacks along the side of mountains. The large expansive landscape without visual vertigo reference points like signs and buildings can be disorienting.
You must concentrate for your safety and the safety of everyone on the road. Avoid all distractions while driving, such as checking your phone or eating.
Avoid tipping your head back to take a sip of a drink as this head motion could trigger residual vertigo.
If you need to take a drink of water, use a water bottle that allows you to sip with your head level. Only take a sip while your vehicle is fully stopped at a light or stop sign, and never while you are in motion.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.
Dr. Bell, Your site has a wealth of information. As a sufferer of vertigo for more than 30 years now…Thank you.
I discovered that I have severe case of vertigo since 2001 and been taking medicine for it to keep my balance and from getting dizzy.
The doctors say I can only drive if it is an emergency while someone else is in the car just in case I have an attack.
Just wanted to say thank you for for putting this out there so people can see that it is illegal to drive dizzy (like drinking drunk) and don’t need to hurt anyone.
I have had these episodes for 6 years. They only happen for a relatively short time in the morning. Never had one in afternoon. Been to so many drs that have no idea. Cleared by neurologist, cardiologist doesn’t seem to think very serious. My husband drives me anywhere in am. Not every day, long
I’m sorry to hear this has gone on for so long!
Have you seen this blog?
You can look for a vestibular provider to evaluate you using this article.
I hope you get answers and find relief soon!