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Older drivers - driving safely for life

Are you an older driver?

If you're looking to the future and considering how to stay safe and independent, then this information is for you.

RiDC is a UK research charity that works with older and disabled people. Our information is completely unbiased and is always based on our independent researchWe held focus groups with older drivers and their relatives and consulted experts on road safety to produce the guidance below.

an older man standing at the driver's door of a car, holding a car key up

Download a printable PDF version: Driving safely for life

For many people, driving is a big part of life. Most of us drive every week, if not every day, and we enjoy driving as much as we rely on it.

Older drivers told us:

"It's my freedom, my independence."

"My family are all so far away."

"I've got to drive, I take my wife to her hospital appointments."

"I love driving. I've always had this zest for wanting to drive."

Driving and safety

Just about everything we do involves risk, and motoring is no exception. By understanding the risk and taking steps to minimise it you can help keep yourself and others safe.

Things to think about:

Heavy traffic on the M6 motorway

  • driving conditions: time of day, weather, road layout and surface, other road users
  • your car: maintenance, design and safety features, accessories and equipment
  • yourself: refresher training, experience, health and capabilities and even your mood

Read more about driving safely

Driving and age

Older drivers:

  • often have long records of safe driving
  • are the least likely to be involved in an accident (statistics for drivers aged over 55)
  • have greater chances of being seriously injured - those over 65 are potentially frailer and more vulnerable to physical injuries

Current road conditions are more challenging, with more cars on the road driving faster and more aggressively. Over time, road layouts are updated, with (for instance) multi-lane junctions and filter lanes, and these may cause some drivers confusion. Some drivers may start to experience difficulty with navigating junctions, merging traffic, right turns and busy roads. 

The difficulties older drivers have:

  • include particular difficulties with junctions, merging traffic, right turns and busy roads
  • are due to the changes in our abilities as we get older, especially health problems which may affect the way we drive

Technology

Technology is available in many models of cars. Look at some resources to show which tech can help older drivers:

Acknowledgements: This guidance was researched and written by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, with funding from the Department for Transport, the RAC Foundation and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund and in partnership with Driving Mobility (the network of Mobility Centres), PACTS and the Gifford Partnership.

Last updated: April 2019


Next: Health and wellbeing | See also: Motoring research portal | Primary driving controls research report