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Are you fit to drive?

October 2018

Woman driving in car
There are more than 4.5 million drivers over 70 in the UK

There have been reports in the media of a 103 year old who has been driving for eight decades and has never had an accident and a 107 year old lady who is still a driving licence holder.

But they are still the exception and generally, as people age, they start considering their fitness to drive. This is especially true today with our incredibly busy roads and complex roundabout systems that were not around when we took our driving test decades ago.

Recent figures from the DVLA show that there are more than 4.5 million drivers in the UK aged over 70, and perhaps more surprising, more than 100,000 over 90.

This means that not only do we need to consider our own driving as we get older, but also that of any elderly relatives. Ensuring medically fitness to drive is a responsibility everyone should take seriously whatever their age.

People of any age are legally bound to advise the DVLA (or the DVA in Northern Ireland) if they think they may have a condition that could affect their ability to drive safely. Conditions which need to be reported include any history of epilepsy, strokes, other neurological or mental health conditions, physical disabilities or visual impairments.

There is some useful information at the Government’s website.

This is of course a grey area, what exactly is a physical disability. Funnily enough you do not need to tell the DVLA if you have had a heart attack or angina if your doctor gives you an okay to drive.

But if your doctor has advised you to stop driving, or you feel you have a medical condition including problems with vision that could affect your driving, you may be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t notify the DVLA or the DVA, and you also risk prosecution if you are involved in an accident.

Fitness to drive really is very important.

But while we can take responsibility for ourselves, it can be more difficult when an elderly relation insists on keeping on driving even when you feel their ability is beginning to be impaired.

There is a good website Still Safe to Drive which has been put together by GEM Motoring Assist, an organisation aimed to improve road safety for all users. Here they give some help and have some useful videos on how to recognise problems and equally important, how to start the conversation with friends or relatives who you feel should be considering their fitness to drive.

A really useful resource for older drivers is at olderdrivers.org.uk

This even gives a cost calculator to work out the difference between driving and using public transport for you.

The roads and driving is changing fast. Driverless vehicles, different styles of communication and indeed transport, are all evolving and what we see as an essential today may soon lose its importance.

While giving up driving can be a dramatic change in lifestyle, it is not the end of the world and there can be fun rediscovering other forms of transport.



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