Senior Driver? Here’s What You Need To Know

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As a senior driver, it can be frustrating to have people questioning your driving skills. Let’s face it, you’ve been driving since before these people were born and may feel that you’re safe and competent on the roads. But while this might be the case, there are a few things to bear in mind as you get older. Since in many countries there’s no upper age limit to drive, it means it’s up to you to decide when you take your car for its last spin, and give up your spot in the driver’s seat. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

Do You Have a Disability or Health Condition?

It’s generally a decline in health, rather than age which leads to seniors having to give up driving. It’s unfortunate, but if your health means you’re no longer safe at the wheel you have to consider both your lives and the lives of other road users. If you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke for example and are prone to having another, it’s just not worth risking getting behind the wheel. If you have a degenerative problem that affects your grip, hands or feet can you reliably control the car? Everything from arthritis to hypoglycaemia can affect your driving. Mental health issues can also cause a problem, memory loss due to Alzheimer’s (even in the early stages) and other cognitive disorders could put you and others at risk. Speak to your doctor if you’re unsure, but any doubt it’s worth stopping completely. If you do continue to drive, make sure you inform the relevant driving authorities of your condition- it’s an offense not to do so. Another thing to be aware of is the medication you have to take. Even if the condition itself (such as high blood pressure) means you’re ok to drive, the side effects of the medication you need to take can mean that you’re not. You could speak to your doctor about alternatives- but if there are none, of course you will need to prioritise your health over driving.

Have Your Reactions Slowed Down Significantly?

Numerous research studies have shown that as we age, our reactions slow down. So any sudden changes such as something happening up ahead, merging or changing lanes might not be reacted to as quickly as you once did. Since a situation can change so quickly on the roads, it’s crucial that you’re able to respond efficiently. After all, it’s not just your driving that you have to watch out for but that of other road users too. If you are involved in an incident, you could speak to a company like to discuss your options. Slowing down slightly is to be expected, and isn’t reason to give up driving unless it’s affecting you significantly. But if you know you’re not quite as quick as you once were, consider making shorter trips on less busy roads if possible. During rush hour traffic for example when there’s a lot going on, it can be dangerous for those even with the most astute reactions.

Are Your Vision and Hearing What They Once Were?

Even if you don’t have a disability, a decline in hearing and vision can be a huge problem. Our sight and hearing do tend to worsen as we get older so this is likely to be an issue for most older drivers. In many cases, it may just be a temporary problem while you get things sorted out. For example, if you have developed cataracts you will probably be safe to get back on the roads once they have been removed and you’ve healed. If you are noticing hearing loss, having a hearing aid fitted will put things right. Speak to your doctor and check that you’re ok to drive, and use your common sense.

Are You Up To Date With Modern Driving?

Chances are, the roads are a LOT different now than they were when you passed your test. On top of this, there are new road signs, laws and advancements in both cars and technology which make driving different now than what it once was. Do you know how to drive with a sat nav for example? And do you know that it’s illegal to touch it in any way while you’re driving- meaning you have to pre-program it before setting off? Are you aware of the recent changes to the law involving speeding and mobile phones? Brushing up on the highway code is something that all drivers can benefit from, not just seniors. Keeping up to date on changes in the law is also useful, that way you ensure you’re staying safe and not accidently getting yourself in trouble.

Should You Have a Driving Assessment?

If your doctor has said it’s ok for you to drive but you’re still unsure, there are places where you can book a senior driver evaluation. If you have a health condition, you would book a detailed driving evaluation. Otherwise, a simple driving assessment will give you help and advice about how to improve your driving. It’s informal and confidential, so if you’re particularly nervous on the day and don’t drive as well as you usually would you’re not going to have your license snatched off you. You could given help and advice, such having various adaptations for the car suggested to you.

The idea of having to give up driving can be worrying for seniors. When a lot of your independence comes from having a car, the idea of having to give it up can cause a lot of anxiety. But it’s important to put your pride and personal reasons to the side when considering if you need to throw in the towel with driving. If you’re unsafe on the roads, you risk the lives of others. Have a careful think about your driving, speak to your doctor and go for an assessment if necessary. This will at least give loved ones who are concerned peace of mind, even if you know you’re safe on the roads.

Are you a senior driver, or worried about someone who is? What steps will you take to ensure you/ they remain safe on the roads?