Driving when you get older

Driving when you get older
4 min read

There is no age at which a person has to legally stop driving, however, there are some exceptions.

If you don’t have a medical condition that effects your driving, the decision to stop is largely up to you. You might decide to stop driving for several reasons – perhaps you find you don’t need to use your car as much as you used to, or you’d rather spend the money on other expenses.

However, if you develop a medical condition that affects your driving, or an existing condition becomes more serious, you will have to stop. Your safety and the safety of other road users is the most important thing to consider.

This means you must be aware of your health and any changes that may compromise your driving in any way. For example, you may want to consider giving up driving if your reaction times become noticeably slower, if your eyesight starts deteriorating, or you find driving more stressful than you used to.

Your GP will be able to advise you on any medical conditions, or medication, that may affect your driving to a point where it could put you and others at risk. In some cases, you may be advised to stop driving temporarily – after an operation or injury, for example, or while you’re on medication that can cause drowsiness, dizziness or difficulty concentrating.

How to renew your driving licence

When you turn 70, your licence will automatically expire, and you will need to renew it. You can do this several ways. If you have a photocard licence, you can fill in the form and return it to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) with your current driving licence photocard.

If you have a paper licence, you can send the completed form with an up-to-date passport photo. Alternatively, you can renew your licence online by visiting the GOV.UK website.

Have your eyesight tested

You are required by law to be able to read a standard number plate, in good daylight, from 20 metres away.

As you get older, your eyes can change without you noticing any differences. You should, therefore, have regular eye tests so your optician can catch any early signs of conditions that could affect your eyesight, which in turn could impact your ability to drive. These conditions include cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes.

Driving assessments

A driving assessment can be useful in seeing how your driving abilities are changing, and whether you’re able to safely continue to drive.

There are two different types of driver assessments:

  • The first, provided by local authorities and driving organisations, is a standard driving assessment, and will offer you refresher training and advice on how to improve your driving and make it an easier experience.

  • Those with a medical condition or disability that affects their driving, and those who are looking to start driving again following an accident or injury, can have a detailed driving assessment provided by mobility centres.

Car adaptations

If you experience difficulty getting in and out of your car, or using the controls, you might benefit from specialist adaptations that can make driving easier. They can help improve comfort, or help you to steer, signal and control speed.

There’s a huge range of products available, including special cushions and swivel seats, steering aids and hand controls. Most are easy to attach, but some will require a professional replacing the controls in your car.

Are you eligible for a Blue Badge?

The Blue Badge scheme helps disabled people with severe mobility problems to access places by allowing them to park close to their destination. To qualify for a badge, you must be able to prove you receive either the Higher Rate of the Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment for being unable to walk further than 50 metres, a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement, or you are registered blind.

You may also be eligible for a badge if you have a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or considerable difficulty in walking.

Surrendering your license

If your doctor advises you to stop driving, you can surrender your driving licence to the DVLA. If the DVLA makes a medical enquiry into your fitness to drive and you don’t meet the required standards, your licence will be revoked until all necessary medical enquiries are done.

Adjusting to life without driving

If you surrender your licence, you might find it difficult to adjust at first. Some people feel they have lost their independence – but stopping driving doesn’t mean your whole routine has to change.

It’s important to try and keep your usual routine as much as you’d like to. This may involve finding out about all the public transport options available to you, or asking friends and family if they can help you run errands and make appointments.

You may see that there are some benefits to giving up driving. You might find you’re walking more, which is good for your physical and mental health, and could boost your energy and improve your sleep – while getting lifts from loved ones might mean you get to spend more time with them. It can be difficult at first when you’re adjusting to a big change, and a slower pace of life, but there are many other transport options that you just might find you enjoy.

Many of the carers on SuperCarers’ platform have a driving licence and can help you running errands and enable your independence outside the home, whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment or a social event. Give us a call on 020 8629 1030 to find out more about home care options, whether you need live-in or hourly care.