Driving is more complex and demanding than it used to be. Mature motorists bring a wealth of experience, confidence and tolerance to their driving, all of which contributes to making them safer on the road than other age groups.
However, as you grow older your ability to interpret the movements and intentions of other drivers and react to situations gradually changes. Sight, hearing and judgement of speed may not be quite as sharp as they were when you were younger. Stiffening joints may make it difficult to turn your head to check blind spots or keep a check on vehicles either side of you. These changes occur so gradually that you may not realise they’re happening.
The law requires a driver to renew his or her licence on reaching the age of 70, and every three years thereafter. To renew your driving licence at age 70 or over go to: www.direct.gov.uk/renewat70. All drivers, whatever their age, are required by law to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of the onset or worsening of a medical condition which may affect their ability to drive safely. They include any heart condition, epilepsy, diabetes and difficulty in the use of limbs affecting a driver’s ability to control a vehicle.
It is an offence to drive any vehicle if you cannot read a standard number plate in good daylight from 20.5m (67 feet) away – the length of a cricket pitch.
- If you need glasses or contact lenses to meet this standard, make sure you wear them every time you drive.
- Have your eyes tested regularly, as changes in your eyesight can happen slowly and without you realising it. An optician can also spot the early signs of certain medical conditions which can affect your fitness to drive, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes.
- If you meet the standard but have cataracts, avoid driving at night and against the glare of bright sunlight.
- If you develop glaucoma or any other eye disease, or experience any changes in either eye, consult your GP or specialist about your fitness to drive and, if so advised, report the condition to the DVLA. Find out what the rules say and how your eyesight is tested click here
- Before you start to learn to drive, make sure you know the eyesight rules. If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses to meet the requirements, you must wear them every time you drive. Find out what the rules say and how your eyesight is tested. click here
Refreshing your skills
Research shows that even experienced drivers can slip into bad habits and are not always as familiar and up to date with The Highway Code as they should be. So it’s a good idea to refresh your knowledge from time to time.
You’ll find everything you need to know, including recent changes in the law, in the latest edition of the ‘Highway Code’ and the Driving Standards Agency’s ‘The Driving Manual’, both of which are available from good bookshops.
Stopping driving – when is the right time?
If you have any concerns about your fitness to drive, you should consult your GP or consultant. An approved driving instructor will also be able to give you an expert opinion, or you can book an experienced driver assessment with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Giving up driving doesn’t mean the end of your independence, especially if most of your car journeys tend to be local. The amount you spend a year taxing, insuring and maintaining and fuelling your car could pay for a lot of taxi journeys.
Diabetes on insulin and driving
If you experience the warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia while driving - STOP! Pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Hypoglycaemia is a danger to you and other road users -don’t ignore the symptoms.
Does tiredness frequently affect your driving?
Constantly tired, snore heavily or fall asleep easily? Don't wait for a road accident to happen - tiredness can kill. Find advice for drivers by following the link below.