Driving for older people
When to give up driving is a question that has big implications for independence. It is not only the ability to drive and get form A to B but the sense of being independent and in charge of one’s own life that is so important. The ability to drive can make it possible to join in social activities, visit family and be independent for jobs like shopping. Not driving can limit opportunities to be part of the wider community.
In the UK a full driving licence lasts until the age of 70, then has to be renewed every 3 years. There is no charge or test involved. It is a driver’s responsibility to inform DVLA of any medical condition that could affect driving- some mean that you must not drive for a period of time.
Generally older drivers are safe behind the wheel, they are experienced drivers and don’t take risks. However they are more likely to have accidents at junctions and can be more seriously injured in the event of an accident.
Some warning signs that tell you it might be time to think about giving up are:
- You find driving more stressful
- Your eyesight is getting worse
- Your reactions are slower than they used to be
- Others have suggested it is time to give up… especially if they have been in the car with you!
Age proofing your life means thinking of ways that you could cope without a car- and it is worth thinking ahead and familiarising yourself with these well before you stop driving. What is public transport like in your area? You may be entitled to free or concessionary travel. Maybe you could try a bus trip with a friend who knows the system before setting out alone. Are there other ways to do your shopping? If you use a computer there are on-line delivery services. Do you know if local shops deliver? Perhaps you could share a taxi with friends for a social outing. The cost of keeping a car ‘on the road’ is high and if you are only driving a few times a week, it may even be cheaper to use taxis.
If the prospect of giving up driving is years in the future, it is still worth thinking about where you are living and how manageable things would be without a car.
What is it that being able to drive allows you to do- and how else could you do the same?
The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offers Experienced Driver Assessments, not a test but a good way to get an opinion about your driving ability. This link will give you more information.