Older 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.
While it’s true that older drivers are less likely to have an accident, this is because they tend to make fewer and shorter journeys and often travel in daylight or on familiar routes. By taking even greater care and adjusting your driving habits to compensate for any deterioration in your eyesight and judgement, you can drive safely and confidently well into your later years.
The law requires a driver to renew his or her licence on reaching the age of 70, and every three years thereafter. An information leaflet, ‘What you need to know about driving licences’, and an application form are available from the Post Office. 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. The notifiable medical conditions are listed in the DVLA’s information leaflet mentioned above. They include any heart condition, epilepsy, diabetes and difficulty in the use of limbs affecting a driver’s ability to control a vehicle.
If you have a medical condition, contact the Drivers Medical Group, DVLA, Swansea SA99 1TU (tel: 0870 6000301), giving your driver number, full name and date of birth and describing the nature of your condition. You will normally be sent a confidential medical form for describing your condition in greater detail, and the DVLA may require a medical report from your GP or consultant.
You should ask your doctor about the possible effects which any medicine or drug you have been prescribed may have on your driving. Certain over-the-counter medications - cough and cold medicines and hay fever preparations for example - can also make you feel drowsy and you should avoid driving while taking them.