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For many of us, driving is a way to maintain our independence and freedom. However, negative stories in the media about older drivers lead some people to give up their cars too soon.
On the other hand, some older people carry on driving even if they feel less able to do so, because they don’t like the idea of giving up or think they don’t have any alternative way of getting around.
In the driving seat is a guide from Age Scotland partner Age UK with information about your legal obligations as a driver, tips on continuing to drive safely, and adaptations that can help with this. It also gives advice on alternative ways to get out and about, and explains what to do if you have any concerns about your driving, and how to decide when it’s time to stop. Download the guide now to find out more about driving safely for longer:
Download 'In the Driving Seat' guide (pdf 758 KB)
If you would like a print copy of this guide call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90.
There is no age at which you must legally stop driving. But when you reach the age of 70, and every 3 years after that, you’ll have to renew your licence. You’re also legally obliged to declare certain health conditions, although you won’t necessarily have to stop driving.
Follow our tips to make sure you stay safe behind the wheel.
1. Declare your health conditions
If you’ve developed a health condition or disability, check whether it needs to be declared to the DVLA. Many people worry that they’ll be stopped from driving if they declare a condition, but vehicle adaptations may allow you to continue driving.
2. Have regular eye and hearing tests
If you’re prescribed glasses for driving, make sure you wear them and ensure that your faculties are good enough to be safe on the road.
3. Maintain your car
Check your car regularly and take it for an annual MOT. If you’ve had the same car for a while, consider whether it’s still suitable for your needs.
4. Be comfortable
Drive only when you feel comfortable doing so Avoid driving in bad weather or at rush hour, for example, if it makes you feel anxious.
5. Read the Highway Code
It may have changed since you learnt to drive, so it’s worth refreshing your knowledge. Download it free from GOV.UK, or buy it from a bookshop.
6. Adapt your car
If you have a health condition or disability that makes it difficult to use your car’s controls, there’s a wide range of adaptations that can help.
Sometimes just upgrading to a newer model with power steering can make a world of difference.
7. Follow your instincts
It can be hard to accept when we’re no longer able to do something safely. However, if you feel that your reactions aren’t as sharp as they were, or your ability has deteriorated, you should consider whether it’s time to stop.
Remember that an unsafe driver is a danger to their passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers, as well as to themselves.
If your friends or relatives have concerns about your driving, think about whether they have a point and get a second opinion.
Alternatives to driving vary from area to area, but it’s worth researching what’s available, particularly if you think you will need to stop driving soon.
If you’re older or disabled you may be entitled to a free bus pass and discounted rail and coach travel. There may also be a community bus service, taxi token scheme, or dial-a-ride minibus service in your area.
If you don’t qualify for the concessions, you may be concerned about the cost of public transport. Try adding up the amount you spend on car insurance, maintenance and petrol in a year, and you might find that using the alternatives works out the same, or cheaper, than running a car.
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The Forum of Mobility Centres is the umbrella organisation for 17 mobility centres, which offer information, advice and assessment to people who have a medical condition, disability or injury that makes driving difficult.
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