“When can I return to driving?”

A review of the current literature on returning to driving after lower limb injury or arthroplasty

K. MacLeod, A. Lingham, H. Chatha, J. Lewis, A. Parkes, S. Grange, P. J. Smitham


Clinicians are often asked by patients, “When can I drive again?” after lower limb injury or surgery. This question is difficult to answer in the absence of any guidelines. This review aims to collate the currently available evidence and discuss the factors that influence the decision to allow a patient to return to driving. Medline, Web of Science, Scopus, and EMBASE were searched using the following terms: ‘brake reaction time’, ‘brake response time’, ‘braking force’, ‘brake pedal force’, ‘resume driving’, ‘rate of application of force’, ‘driving after injury’, ‘joint replacement and driving’, and ‘fracture and driving’. Of the relevant literature identified, most studies used the brake reaction time and total brake time as the outcome measures. Varying recovery periods were proposed based on the type and severity of injury or surgery. Surveys of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Police, insurance companies in the United Kingdom and Orthopaedic Surgeons offered a variety of opinions.

There is currently insufficient evidence for any authoritative body to determine fitness to drive. The lack of guidance could result in patients being withheld from driving for longer than is necessary, or returning to driving while still unsafe.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B:290–4.


  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

    This article was primarily edited by G. Scott and first-proof edited by J. Scott.

  • Received March 20, 2012.
  • Accepted September 13, 2012.
View Full Text

Log in through your institution