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Worried about someone's driving?

There are many reasons you may be worried about someone's driving. It can be a difficult subject to broach, especially with someone you care about, but if you feel that they’ve become a danger to themselves and to others on the roads, then it’s important that you find a way to talk to them about it.

What can affect an older person’s ability to drive?

Older drivers are generally a safe group on the roads, as experience tends to balance out issues that affect certain aspects of driving. These issues include things like: 

  • Medication. Some medications can slow reaction time or cause drowsiness.
  • Eyesight or vision problems. Poor eyesight can affect someone's ability to see clearly, both front on or from the sides.
  • Hearing loss. Problems with hearing will affect someone's ability to hear important noises, such as car horns or sirens.
  • Mobility problems or pain. Pain and problems with mobility may make it more difficult for someone to use parts of the car – from things such as pulling the handbrake, using the footbrake or moving their head to check their side mirrors.
  • Memory problems. Someone with memory problems may get lost, confused or disorientated if they're in an unfamiliar area.

Encourage the person to speak to their GP or pharmacist about any health conditions or medications that may be affecting their ability to drive safely.

If the change in someone’s driving ability is linked to a health condition, there may be a solution, such as adaptations to their car, that would allow them to keep driving safely. 

Is there an upper age limit for driving in the UK?

There’s no set age when a person must legally stop driving. They can continue to drive into their later years as long as they can do so safely and don’t have any medical conditions that affect their driving.

However, you're required to renew your licence when you turn 70, and every 3 years after that.

Find out more about driving after 70

How can someone get help and support with their driving?

Mobility centres offer information and advice about mobility and driving. They also have trained staff who can assess someone's driving and look at what could help them stay driving for longer. The aim of these assessments is to help older drivers continue driving for as long as they can do so safely.

Who pays for the driving assessment?

  • If someone's been asked to take an assessment after declaring a medical condition, the DVLA will pay for it.
  • If someone's been referred for an assessment by the NHS, including GPs, then the assessment is free for most centres, but you should get in touch with your nearest mobility centre for exact costs. 
  • If someone refers themself for an assessment, they'll need to pay for it themself. This could be for those who want to feel confident in their driving skills and ability again.

Having a driving assessment can help reassure the driver, and those around them, that they're safe on the roads.

Once the mobility centre has assessed their driving, they’ll give them advice on what to do next. This may be simply saying it's still safe for them to drive, or telling them which adaptations could help them with driving or getting into and out of their car. If the assessment shows that a medical condition makes it unsafe for them to drive, the DVLA can tell them to stop driving. They must be provided with a medical explanation as to why they've made this decision. 

How can I talk to an older person about stopping driving?

If the DVLA don't tell your older relative or friend that they have to stop driving then ultimately it’s their decision to decide what to do about their driving. But if you feel that their driving ability is making them unsafe, or that they’re putting other people in danger, then you have a responsibility to talk to them about it.

It may help you to discuss the issue with them if you put yourself in their shoes and think about what the impact would be on your day-to-day life if you had to give up driving. Driving can give people a sense of freedom and independence, so it can be very difficult to adjust to not driving anymore.

It might be a good idea to do some research of alternatives to driving before you speak with them, so you can show them how they can stay independent and keep doing the things they enjoy – such as visiting friends and going shopping. You could look into things like:

Public or community transport options

They may also be eligible for concessions, so it's a good idea to look into this too. 

Assistive aids or car adaptations

These may make driving easier, and therefore safer, for them – such as power steering, special cushions and hand controls. Driving Mobility will have more information and advice about these.

Find your local Driving Mobility centre on their website

Experienced Driver Assessments

These provide people with a comprehensive report on their driving ability and offer suggestions for improvement.

Find a Driver Assessment on the Older Drivers website

It's important that you approach the subject sensitively and tactfully, remaining supportive and positive throughout the conversation. This may be difficult if the person reacts defensively, gets upset or feels embarrassed. If the conversation is becoming particularly difficult or upsetting, you may want to break it off and revisit the subject another time. However, they may be grateful that you’ve broached the topic with them, and find comfort knowing that they have support in finding a way forward.

Community transport services

You can search for community transport services using the directory on GOV.UK.

What happens if someone refuses to stop driving?

If you're seriously concerned about an older person's driving, but they're refusing to consider the alternative options available to them, you should write in confidence to the DVLA. They may then follow up with the local police.

It's important that you think carefully about how this could affect your relationship with the person and consider other ways for you to get them to think about giving up.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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