Our thanks to Driving Mobility which runs the network of UK Mobility Centres for helping us with the follwoing practical advice on safe driving for older drivers.
Be aware of how you're driving
- Do you notice that you're finding driving harder or more frightening?
- Has someone voiced concerns about your driving? Many of us fall into bad driving habits over time and are not always aware of them.
- You or your friends and/or family may have noticed changes.
- Listen to people if they bring up issues with your driving. They may not be right. But they probably have your best interests at heart, and, if they think there's a problem, at least consider what they're saying.
Every year an MOT checks that our car is roadworthy. Why not consider a driving appraisal or assessment and give yourself a driver MOT?
For some experienced drivers a series of refresher lessons can improve confidence and provide an opportunity to be given up-to-date individual highway code advice.
- Unfortunately, there are occasions when it is necessary for people to retire from driving because it is no longer safe for them to continue.
- Some people continue driving when they really aren’t safe, and this is obviously a problem.
- However, many more people stop driving because they are worried - even when they're still safe to drive. With the correct advice, training, or adaptations, they may be able to carry on driving longer.
If you're unsure, or are concerned and want some advice, book a refresher lesson with a qualified driving instructor.
- is not a test of any kind
- involves a drive on the roads you normally use in your own car
- does not include the medical and psychological tests that are part of a Mobility Centre assessment
The following organisations offer an experienced driver appraisal - honest, objective and confidential:
- The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
- Institute of Advanced Motoring
- Some county councils may provide a driving appraisal.
A range of driving assessments is available. These are not intended to stop you driving. A driving appraisal or assessment is designed to help you to continue driving safely by providing you with constructive feedback.
A professional driving assessment will:
- check out your physical ability
- check your eyesight
- assess the mental skills you use when driving, and your reactions
- let you know if you need to change the way you drive and tell you about any adaptations that would help you to continue driving safely
"The service was friendly, supportive and very professional. It put me at ease when I was very nervous."
Driving Mobility is the network of mobility centres and
- provides a range of professional mobility assessment services
- uses specially qualified occupational therapists and approved driving instructors to offer Fitness to Drive Assessments and Adaptation Assessments
- looks at your ability to drive safely and give you recommendations and (if appropriate) advice on adaptations to enable you to continue to drive
- provides you with a comprehensive report recognised by the DVLA, which may help you with licence re-application or where medical investigations are being carried out
Change the way you drive: useful tips
If you find it particularly difficult to drive in certain conditions, such as in the dark, when it’s raining, or at busy times, try to avoid these situations if you can.Try to plan ahead for potential hazards such as roundabouts, traffic lights, junctions.
If you need to slow down a bit to give yourself time to react, then do so, especially when you’re coming up to a junction or other hazard. Take your time before moving off, making sure you’ve checked all round. Don’t feel pressured by other drivers.
However, remember you need to drive at an appropriate speed for the road and traffic conditions. Driving too slowly can be hazardous and cause danger, just as can driving too fast can.
At crossroads and T-junctions without traffic lights, look both ways twice before moving off. Keep checking for traffic while driving through the junction.
Braking gradually in anticipation of these can help give you additional time to process visual information about the road and those around you. Give yourself the time you need to react.
When merging into traffic (from a parked position or at junctions), take your time before moving away, making sure you’ve checked all round, including for vulnerable road users, such as cyclists. Take time to make a second check left and right prior to merging as the traffic situation can quickly change.
Don’t feel pressured by other drivers to merge before you are prepared to, or to drive over the legal speed limit because they're following you too closely.
Plan longer journeys
- Plan your route, including where you will park.
- Allow plenty of time for your journey, so you aren’t rushing or feeling under pressure.
- Allow time for rests.
- Don’t be afraid to find somewhere safe to take a break – as long as it’s safe to do so.