Road safety for older drivers

There’s no legal age at which you must stop driving – but you must renew your licence every three years after you turn 70 (see details about how to do this attached to this page).

It’s also important to understand the risks that can be faced by older drivers and to take steps to reduce them if you’re affected.  

Many mature drivers have years of experience and that can be a huge advantage.

But getting older can bring challenges – some drivers develop medical conditions that affect their ability to drive safely while others find that their reactions are slower than they used to be.

Driving on today’s busy roads is demanding - follow Derby and Derbyshire Road Safety Partnership’s top tips to help you stay safe:

Keep fit

Strength and flexibility are needed when driving. Whether you’re steering or turning to look over your shoulder, you need to be able to react quickly to the situations you find yourself in. 

Staying active will make life easier when you’re behind the wheel. Simply fitting a little more walking in your daily routine will improve your general health. Stretches and light training exercises can help too.

Ask your GP for advice about what type of activity is best for you. You can also ask about physiotherapy if you’re struggling to move are freely as you’d like when driving.

Consider any medical conditions you have 

Do you have a medical condition that could affect your ability drive safely?

Check with your doctors’ surgery if you’re unsure. They should be able to tell you if your condition – or any medicine you’re taking to treat it – could affect your driving.

It’s your responsibility to let the DVLA know if you have a medical condition which could affect your driving.

If you fail to do so, you may be prosecuted if you’re involved in a crash where your condition could have played a part. In such circumstances, you may also find that your insurer fails to pay out.

Book regular sight and hearing tests 

It’s illegal to drive if you can’t read a new-style number plate from a distance of 20 metres or an old-style number plate from 20.5 metres. If you need glasses or contact lenses to do this, you must wear them every time you drive.

As you get older, your eyes can change without you realising. If you have regular eye tests your optician will be able to spot early signs of conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes that can affect your ability to drive.

It’s also important to get your hearing checked regularly. You can’t stay safe in your car unless you can hear what’s going on around you.

Drive in conditions that suit you 

Plan your journeys in order to avoid situations you find stressful.

You might choose to avoid driving during rush hour, in the dark or when the weather is bad.

If you get tired easily, take plenty of breaks when making longer journeys.  

Consider adapting your car 

You may be able to get your car adapted if you’re struggling to drive because you’re less mobile than you used to be. A range of devices are available including hand controls for the accelerator and brake and steering wheel knobs that help you to turn more easily.

You can get your needs independently assessed at one of the UK’s regional mobility centres. The centre covering the East Midlands is DrivAbility, which is based at Kingsway Hospital in Derby.

For more information call 01332 371929 or visit www.derbydrivability.com (opens in a new window) 

Consider whether you could benefit from driver training 

A driving health check could help you to decide whether to opt for driver training. 

There are several ways to do this:

  • Book a refresher session with a driving instructor

  • Sign up for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ Experienced Driver Assessment for £50. An examiner from RoSPA will accompany you on a ninety minute drive in your own car. At the end of the session you will receive a confidential assessment of your driving ability and practical suggestions about how to improve. For more information call 0121 248 2127

  • Sign up for Institute of Advanced Motorists’ DriveCheck 55 Assessment for £35. DriveCheck 55 involves a 60 minute drive with a qualified examiner in your own car. On completion you will be given a comprehensive driving report. For more information call 0845 126 8600 or visit www.iam.org.uk (opens in a new window) Drivers living in the Derbyshire Dales who are aged 65 or over can get a driving health check for just £20. Up to four hours of on-the-road assessment are available through the scheme, which is run by observers from Matlock IAM. For more details call Bill Storey on 01629 812732. 

Renewing your driving licence at 70 plus

You must renew your licence every three years after you turn 70.

Ninety days before your 70th birthday, the DVLA will write to you enclosing the forms you need to complete. If you don’t receive a form through the post for any reason, you can pick one up from your local post office.

You can also apply for a new licence (opens in a new window) online at on the GovUK website.