The freedom driving gives us is something that many elderly people will be reluctant to relinquish. However, if you feel it is no longer safe for your elderly loved one to continue driving, telling them can be a delicate matter that requires careful consideration.
Although there is no upper age limit in the UK for people to be able to drive, all drivers over 70 must renew their licence every three years. However, age alone should not be the sole factor in determining someone’s driving ability. There are signs to look for that might indicate an elderly person is no longer safe to drive, including the effects of ‘notifiable’ medical conditions. Regardless of their age, you must notify the DVLA if your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, heart conditions, epilepsy, diabetes, glaucoma, has had a stroke and if they have any other condition that may mean they stop breathing or can result in seizures.
You may notice some of these signs if you travel as a passenger in their car, if they get agitated about driving, or if scrapes and dents appear on their car and they are reluctant to talk about it.
Look out for signs that may indicate it is no longer safe to drive, including:
- Physical limitations: impaired mobility, muscle weakness, limited range of motion, slower reflexes, pain or stiffness that affects their ability to operate the car effectively.
- Slower reaction times: A noticeable decline in reaction times, such as delayed responses to unexpected situations on the road.
- Cognitive decline: Memory problems, slower decision making, confusion or trouble concentrating can all affect driving skills.
- Getting lost: Frequent disorientation or getting lost in familiar places can indicate cognitive decline.
- Visual impairments: Poor eyesight, including reduced visual acuity, depth perception, peripheral vision or difficulty adjusting to changes in light conditions.
- Hearing loss: Hearing difficulties can make it hard to hear sirens, horns or other important cues while driving.
- Medication side effects: some medications may have side-effects which can impair their ability to drive safely, such as causing dizziness or drowsiness.
- Frequent close calls or accidents: Multiple minor accidents, near misses or a history of at-fault accidents can be warning signs.
- Difficulty with traffic signs and rules: Frequent violations of traffic rules, missing or ignoring stop signs or traffic lights or other driving errors that suggest a lack of understanding of road regulations.
- Increased anxiety or fear of driving: An elderly person who expresses fear or anxiety about driving or is reluctant to drive in certain conditions, for example at night or in heavy traffic, may be experiencing a decline in confidence or ability.
- Physical illnesses or conditions: Conditions such as dementia, diabetes or other medical issues that can lead to sudden incapacitation should be taken into consideration.
- Inconsistent driving performance: Drastic differences in driving behaviour, such as abrupt lane changes, difficulty maintaining a consistent speed or unpredictable actions on the road.
- Difficulty judging distances and speed: Problems with estimating the speed of oncoming vehicles or judging the distance between their car and other objects on the road.
If you notice any of these signs in elderly loved ones, it is important to address it straight away. In some cases, it may be appropriate to encourage them to voluntarily cease driving for their safety and the safety of other road users.
Why choose Bright Care
One solution to elderly loved ones being no longer safe to drive is to arrange for in-home care. Our Bright Care services are tailored to suit your loved one’s needs. Our fully trained Bright Carers offer support with outings, such as grocery food shopping, hospital appointments, attending social events, family gatherings, clubs or religious services.