Department of State GrowthTransport

Blackouts and driving

Loss of consciousness, or a 'blackout' is clearly incompatible with safe driving. Any driver who experiences a 'blackout' is legally required to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicle as soon as practicable. Blackouts can occur due to a number of pre-existing conditions and factors, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • heart attack or stroke
  • high emotions
  • hot weather
  • drug or alcohol misuse

How does this affect my driving ability?

A blackout will cause the driver to lose consciousness and control of the vehicle, putting themselves and other road users at risk.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeling 'faint' and light headed
  • Experiencing high emotions, causing panic or anxiety attacks
  • Experiencing a hypoglycaemic episode, which can include shaking, sweating and hunger
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Loss of vision
  • dizziness

What precautions can I take?

  • If a diabetic, ensure that you have taken the required precautions before driving (see Diabetes and driving)
  • If you are prone to seizures, avoid circumstances and substances that are known to increase your risk of an episode.
  • Know your risk of a heart attack or stroke (see Heart conditions and driving)
  • Pull over if you start to feel faint, light headed or dizzy and have something to eat or drink.
  • Pull over if you are overly emotional or anxious
  • Ensure you are well rested before driving and are taking any medication prescribed to you when required.