As Britain's population ages, so does the number of drivers aged 65 and over - indeed, according to statistics from the AA, in the year 2030 nearly 90% of men over 70 will be driving. The freedom to drive a car is of huge importance to older people because it increases personal independence - but how long can you safely drive for, and what advice is available for drivers over the age of 65?
When Must I Stop Driving?
There is no upper age limit for drivers in the UK. However, everyone over the age of 70 must renew their driving licence every three years, completing a medical declaration each time. Certain common health conditions, including insulin-dependent diabetes and dementia, must be reported to the DVLA at any age, which may then impose shorter licence terms or other driving restrictions.
Because it is your responsibility to report these conditions to the DVLA, it's good practice to check with your GP each time a new condition is diagnosed - they will be able to advise you on whether or not it must be reported.
How Do I Know if I'm Still Safe to Drive?
Being legally allowed to drive and being safe to drive are, of course, not necessarily the same thing. Many older people worry about whether they are still as safe as they used to be when driving. If you are concerned, a good test is to ask acquaintances what they think about your driving. Are they comfortable when you drive, or on edge? Why? You can ask friends and family too, of course, but those who don't know you so well are more likely to give you an honest and not emotionally loaded answer.
You can also go down a more formal route and request an older driver assessment from RoSPA. There is a small charge for this assessment, but they will give you invaluable advice about where any concerns lie and how you can improve the safety of your driving.
Tips for Staying Mobile for Longer
- Keep driving - it's easy to lose confidence if you choose not to drive for some time, and under-confident drivers can be just as unsafe as over-confident ones.
- Choose the right car for your needs - opting for a model with better visibility or higher seats can make all the difference to how safe you feel.
- Make sensible driving choices - do you need to drive in very bad weather, darkness or highly congested areas?
- How's your Highway Code? If it's years since you took your test, review you knowledge - there have been many changes over the last few decades.
- How about a refresher lesson? Many driving schools are happy to take adults for one or two refresher lessons, which can boost your confidence and your safety no end.
Overall, if you feel safe driving, you probably are. The fact that you're questioning your safety to drive marks you out as a responsible individual, so with a little thought you can ensure that you maintain your independence for years to come.