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Advice to help keep us driving beyond the age of 70

Published on 23 July 2018 02:31 PM

Many of us enjoy the freedom and independence that driving gives us, and we don’t want to give it up. There are negative stories in the media about older drivers that can lead to some people losing their confidence on the road and giving up driving before they need to. But, in fact, statistics show that older drivers are relatively safe.

Although your licence entitlement will expire when you turn 70, this doesn’t automatically mean you have to stop driving, you’ll just need to apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to renew it every three years. The form should be sent to you automatically by the DVLA. 

However, some medical conditions that older people may develop can affect driving ability and you must report certain conditions to the DVLA, whatever your age. Often there will be a way to help you to carry on driving, although in some cases you may have to stop.

 When you reach 70, you’ll need to renew your driving licence and then do it again every three years afterwards. The DVLA will send you a D46P application form 90 days before your 70th birthday. There’s no charge to renew. If you already have a photocard licence, the form will tell you if you need to send a new passport-type photo with your application. If you have a paper licence, you will need to send an up-to-date passport-type photo with your application.

Make sure you read any correspondence from the DVLA carefully. They may, for example, send you a letter which states that you can continue to drive as before. Or they may send you a temporary driving licence only for use during a Mobility Centre driving assessment.

Reporting medical conditions

If you have developed a medical condition or disability that could affect your ability to drive safely, you must tell the DVLA even if you are not yet due to renew your licence. This also applies if your condition has worsened since your licence was issued. It’s a legal obligation for you to declare certain conditions. If you have an accident where your health condition may have been a factor and you haven’t declared it, you could be prosecuted and your insurance might not cover you.

Some of the medical conditions that you must declare include dementia, diabetes – if it is insulin-treated, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, any chronic neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis, and any condition that affects both eyes or the total loss of sight in one eye.

After you have told the DVLA about a medical condition it may make a decision based on the information you provide, contact your GP or consultant, arrange for a locally appointed doctor or specialist to examine you, or ask you to take a driving assessment, eyesight check or driving appraisal.

Driving with a medical condition

Many people worry that if they tell the DVLA about their medical conditions or disability they’ll be forced to stop driving, but this is not necessarily the case. Having a medical condition doesn’t always mean that your licence will be taken away from you.

You may be able to keep your licence or get a new one, or you may be issued with a driving licence for one, two or three years and then reviewed after this period. The DVLA can also issue you with a licence that indicates that special controls need to be fitted to your vehicle to enable you to drive with your disability.

If its medical enquiries confirm you are not fit to drive it can tell you to stop driving. Remember to inform your insurance provider about any changes to your driving licence or adaptations to your car.

Improving your confidence

If you don’t have a medical condition or disability but you want to feel more confident driving, you can book an experienced driver assessment through the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

Alternatively, contact the Institute of Advanced Motorists and ask for details and costs for the Skill for Life advanced driving course. Your local council may also offer free or low-cost assessments. You shouldn’t see this type of assessment as a test but as an opportunity to get advice on how to improve your driving and maintain your independence for longer.

For more information about driving after the age of 70 contact our Advice line on 08000 223 444.

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