Driving provides a person a great deal of independence, and is something we take for granted through most of our life. As we get older, however, driving gets more difficult and potentially dangerous. For carers it is important to know the law around driving in old age, what to look out for, and how to approach an elderly relative about stopping driving.
In this episode, Lorna Lee, Campaigns manager for the AA, shares with Annabel some tips and advice for ensuring safer in older drivers.
Lorna explains the law on driving in old age
Once a driver reaches the age of 70, they must renew their driving licence, and will have to do this every three years following their 70th birthday. Having a sight test is not compulsory, but is recommended.
Drivers (of any age) must declare any medical conditions that could affect their driving abilities to the DVLA, as soon as they become aware of the condition. Apart from these, there is nothing legally that stops an older person driving. This means that it is really important for close family members and carers to pay close attention to their older relatives to make sure they are safe to drive.
Before a licence is renewed, you may want to read this helpful guide: 15 Things to Consider before you renew your driving licence at 70.
Spotting signs of deteriorating driving
Look out for things like reaction times, spatial awareness, difficulty seeing and confusion in judging whether an older person is fit to drive. Lots of dents and scrapes on a car could also be an indicator that their ability to drive is impaired. Our guide on when to stop driving can help.
Having the conversation
If you are worried about an older person driving, start by having a conversation with them about this. This could help them to start planning for not having a car in the future. Annabel talks more in depth about her experience with her mother becoming unsafe to drive in her blog.
You could also consider seeking an independent driving assessment, through an agency such as RoSPA. This is a good way of avoiding and resolving conflict about the issue. It brings in a third party and feels less personal for the driver in question. These agencies do not remove licenses, but will provide detailed feedback about whether or not the person is safe to drive.