Driving as you get older

Last updated on 15 Jan 2015

You may have been driving for many years, but there are some things that you need to take into consideration as you get older and your circumstances change.

You and your Driving Licence

Can I ever be too old to drive?

There is no upper age limit for driving a car. However, all drivers have to renew their driving licence when they reach the age of 70 and every three years from then on. The renewal form will be sent to you automatically by the Driver Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA). For more information, visit www.gov.uk

Completing the renewal form means that you make a self-declaration, using your own judgement to state that are still fit to drive. No formal medical or driving test is invovled in this declaration. To help you make the right decision and complete your renewal form correctly, Rica (Research Institute for Consumer Affairs) has published a guide called Driving safely for life

Is there anything else I should know?

If you have, or develop, a disability or medical condition that affects your ability to drive, you must by law notify the DVLA. If you inform the DVLA about a disability or medical condition, you will normally be sent a confidential medical form, asking you to describe your medical condition in greater detail, and to agree to the DVLA getting a medical report from your GP or consultant.

Having a disability or medical condition does not necessarily mean that your driving licence will be affected. Some conditions will lead to your licence being restricted, withdrawn or refused if you are applying for the first time. You may be required to have a medical or driving test. These tests are free, and you will be given priority at a driving test centre.

If you have any doubts about your eligibilty to drive, you should consult your GP.

Experienced Driver Assessments

If it is a long time since you passed your driving test and you would like an objective assessment of your current driving skills, you might like to have an Experienced Driver Assessment (EDA).

What is an EDA and who is it for?

An EDA may be useful for:

  • people wishing to make the most of their retirement by travelling around, but who feel slightly apprehensive about driving on today‚Äôs roads; or
  • older people wishing to reassure themselves and their loved ones that they can still drive safely.

An EDA is not a test; it is an assessment which will provide an objective and confidential report on your driving ability at the time.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offers Experienced Driver Assessments in association with the Guild of Experienced Motorists.

What does an EDA involve?

The assessment will involve an hour's drive in your own car, at a time and place convenient to you, which can be near to your home. A qualified driver who is registered with the RoSPA Advanced Drivers' Association will accompany you during the assessment. Afterwards, you will be given a confidential verbal and written report of the drive and a certificate of completion.

There is no pass or fail to the assessment, but your report may include suggestions on how you can improve specific driving skills and your all round driving ability.

To find out about course dates in your area, or for further information contact The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)

Driving in the Winter

Before making a journey during bad weather you should make sure that you and your car are prepared. This includes carrying an emergency kit, checking water and oil levels, tyre tread depth and making sure that you are well rested and fit to drive. For full details on winter driving and how to prepare for dirving in bad weather conditions please visit www.gov.uk

Taxing you car

Windscreen tax discs will be replaced by electronic records from October 1st 2014. This means that police cameras will be used to check car registration details to ensure the car is taxed. You will be able to pay for your car tax online and register your car electronically soon on www.gov.uk.

Low Speed Scooters and Buggies

If you no longer drive a car, or are not a car driver but need something to help you to get about, a wide variety of low speed buggies and scooters are available that can be driven either on the pavement or on the road.

If you think that one of these options would be useful, you should seek advice on which particular vehicle would be most suitable for your needs. You can get assistance with this from Disability North.

Local Support

North East Drive Mobility aim to help people to retain or regain their independence as drivers or passengers. The service is open to experienced and learner drivers, provisional licence holders and passengers with a medical condition or disability which may affect their ability to drive or use a vehicle. The scheme offers:

  • assessment of driving ability - this takes place on a purpose-built driving track, as well as on the public highway
  • advice on vehicle adaptations
  • advice on getting in and out of a vehicle, and wheelchair storage
  • specialist driving tuition
  • information and advice service, including advice on possible alternatives to using a car, for example community transport services

You can refer yourself or be referred by your GP, occupational therapist, the DVLA, Motability or any other agencies.

Other Useful Information

  • LifeBook - Age UK free resource. It can be easy to mislay important documents and information. Record your details from, who insures your car, to where you put the TV licence. The LifeBook can help you to be more organised  and could be invaluable to a family member or a friend if they need to locate important information about you in an emergency. Follow the step-by-step instructions and fill in the sections with your details, contacts and locations of important documents. Complete it online or order one.

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