Top Tips for Older Drivers
Everyone ages differently. There is no safe or unsafe age for a driver.
Older people are more frail and more likely to suffer serious injury in accidents. It is likely that casualty figures are higher because of this frailty rather than because they are worse drivers.
Older people are more susceptible to fatigue. Long journeys are best avoided, especially after meals or alcohol.
- Fitness to drive
It's your responsibility to ensure fitness to drive. You must inform the DVLA of any medical conditions that will affect your driving. Your GP may say when you need to do this, but it is a good idea to ask "will this affect my driving?" whenever a new condition is diagnosed, or treatment given. Dementia poses particular problems. You must also make sure you meet the eyesight requirement. Regular eye tests will help.
- Reapplying for your licence
Once over 70 you will have to reapply for your licence every three years. There is no test or medical, but you do have to make a medical declaration that may lead to DVLA making further investigations.
- Restricting driving
Many older drivers restrict how and where they drive. You might choose to avoid driving in the dark, driving on fast roads or in busy town centres, driving in bad weather or driving long distances. If you have particular problems with some manoeuvres – such as turning right at junctions – it may be possible to plan routes to avoid these. Self restriction is a sign of responsibility and can increase safety, comfort and confidence.
- The right car
The right car can help a lot. Larger mirrors and bigger windows help all-round vision while bigger doors and higher seats can all help getting in and out.
- Keep driving
If you've got a licence and are fit to drive, keep driving. Try not to become over dependent on your partner's driving because as traffic conditions change it can be very hard to take up driving again after several years off. Try to stay in practice on the roads you frequently use.
- Plan for the future
There will eventually come a day when you do have to give up driving. Decisions made at the time of retirement like choosing to live in the country can have a big effect if driving has to stop.
- Second opinion
If it's a friend or relative you're worried about, get a second opinion. Check with their neighbours or friends – do they feel safe if they have a lift? Would they take a lift? Does the driver seem in control when reversing or manoeuvring? In some areas there are local authority schemes that use driving instructors to assess older drivers, but make sure this is in the sorts of conditions and on the sorts of roads they normally use. Mobility Centres can also help