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Driving Tips for Older Drivers

Older drivers are often experienced road users who see their cars as central to their lives. They may have relied on them to get to and from work, to do the weekly shop, and to ferry their children to activities. Later, they may have relied on being able to drive to visit friends and family who have moved away, or to stay involved in the community and attend other events after retirement.

Despite their experience, older drivers can suddenly find they are the subject of much controversy and debate. Some people insist that drivers should be made to retake their driving test once they turn 70. Others worry that their grandparent or neighbour is becoming a danger to themselves or others on the roads. But for many older drivers, the thought of giving up driving can seem like a blow to their independence, particularly for those who live in rural areas or are far from the people they care about.

If you’re worried about your driving, you should try to think about it objectively. There are several steps you can take to make sure you continue to drive safely. If you are no longer able to drive safely, there are alternatives that can help you to stay independent.

Renewing your driving licence

Renewing your driving licence is a necessity once you reach the age of 70, but this doesn’t always mean the end of the road for you as a driver. You should automatically get a UK Driving Licence renewal form from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and you must include details of any medical conditions you have and confirm that your eyesight meets the standards for driving. Even if you’re not yet renewing your driving licence, if you develop a medical condition or disability, you should tell the DVLA. You might worry that you will be stopped from driving, but often this will not be the case. Your GP may have to give information to the DVLA, or you may be told to have a driving assessment at a mobility centre. There may be some adjustments you can make to help you to carry on driving. You will be given support to help you choose the right ones.

Tips for safer driving

Get your eyesight and hearing tested regularly, and wear your glasses if you’ve been prescribed them. You should also check the Highway Code regularly, especially if it’s been a long time since you took your test, as rules sometimes change. If you feel anxious driving at certain times or in particular conditions, avoid these and stick to what feels comfortable.

Alternatives to driving

Find out about what public transport is available in your area, so that you’re clued up if you ever have to stop driving. Older people are entitled to concessions or free travel on certain types of local transport. Check whether there’s a community bus service where you live, or whether your council offers discounted taxi travel. In some areas, there are voluntary car schemes, where volunteers take you to appointments, the shops or to visit friends for a reasonable cost. Remember you can also do shopping and banking from home, by using internet services. Many retailers offer free delivery if you buy items online.

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