Continuing to drive in later life could help you to stay independent. There are steps you can take to stay safe on the roads for longer.
Renewing your licence
Your driving licence expires automatically when you reach 70. If you want to continue driving, you need to renew it then and every three years after that. You can do this free of charge, either online or by post, and you can renew it any time before the extension ends. You’ll need to fill in a form to declare any health conditions you have and that you are still fit to drive.
Ways to check your fitness to drive
Get a sight test – visit Gov.uk for driving eyesight rules.
If you have any health concerns, ask your GP or specialist if these may affect your driving.
Check with a GP or pharmacist that any medications you take will not have an impact on your driving.
If you’re unsure whether you should still be driving
Although you might still be able to drive, you might not be certain of your confidence or ability. It always helps to have a second opinion – other people can spot problems you may not have noticed. You could:
talk to friends and family
get your GP’s opinion
have a driver assessment.
Getting a driver assessment
If you're worried about your driving, or want to reassure yourself or others that you're safe to drive, you can get an assessment. This isn’t a test, so there’s no pass or fail. It’s also a good way to get practical advice on how to improve your driving.
The assessment usually takes place in your own car and lasts up to an hour.
If you have a medical condition that could affect your driving, or you’re disabled, you can take a specialist driving assessment. This is a more detailed driving assessment at a mobility centre. A specially trained driving instructor will assess how your condition affects your driving. You can also involve a health or care professional, such as an occupational therapist, in the assessment.
Your assessor may recommend adaptations that could be made to your car to make driving easier – for example, an adjusted seat to make it easier to get in and out of the car.
You can find more information and search for a driving assessment on Older Drivers. Or, contact Driving Mobility to find your local mobility centre and arrange an assessment.
Getting help if you’re physically disabled
If you’re disabled and need a new car, you may be able to join the Motability scheme. This lets you lease a new, specially adapted car, as well as covering servicing, maintenance, repairs and breakdown assistance. To qualify, you need to receive any of the following:
If you’re not receiving any of these benefits but have mobility problems, you can call our Helpline on 0800 319 6789 for a benefits check, or use our online benefits calculator to get an idea of what you may qualify for.
If you find driving tiring or stressful, changing your driving habits could help to keep you on the road safely for longer. Being more careful can help boost your confidence with driving.
Try to avoid driving in bad weather and during peak times, such as the morning and evening rush hours.
Stick to daytime driving where possible, because your vision will be poorer in the dark.
Stick to roads that you already know well.
Plan your route beforehand, especially if you’re going on a long journey.
Take a break if you need it – it’s good to have an idea of when and where you will stop when you’re planning your journey. The Highway Code recommends a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving.
If you can’t easily drive the distances you used to, you could consider driving to a local station and making the rest of the journey by train or coach.
While I had cataracts, I gave up night driving because the headlights and street lights coming towards me looked like Christmas tree lights.
Reporting health conditions
There are some health conditions that you must report to the DVLA, such as epilepsy, dementia or Parkinson’s disease – Gov.uk has a list of all the conditions you're required to report. Reporting a medical condition doesn’t necessarily mean you must give up driving. You only need to surrender your licence if the DVLA decides that you don’t meet the required medical standards for driving, or if your GP says you cannot drive for three months or more. You can reapply for your licence if you meet the medical standards again.
If you're diagnosed with a health condition that the DVLA needs to know about and you don't tell it, you could be fined up to £1,000.
You should also report any medical conditions that could affect your driving to your insurer. Your insurance may not cover accidents that are caused by a health condition you haven't told them about.
I spoke to my doctor after my heart attack. I didn’t need to report it to the DVLA but I had to stop driving for at least a month.
If you stop driving
It can be a difficult decision to stop driving. You may worry about how you’ll stay independent without your car. There are other ways to get out and about, which may be cheaper and less stressful than driving – see our page about getting around more easily.
If you’re a family member or friend who is unsure of how to approach the subject, our webpage Talking about…giving up driving has some tips on how to start the conversation.
I wasn’t driving all that much and, for the cost of the upkeep, the insurance and everything else, I can afford to take taxis everywhere I want to go. Taxis feel safer now my legs aren’t so stable any more.
Checking your driving skills
Use our checklist below to help you consider whether to get a second opinion on your driving.