When does somebody come too old to drive?

This comes from Your Claims (a legal website):-

“At what age somebody becomes too old to drive is a sensitive subject as losing a licence affects people’s freedom and mobility. Many pensioners who are still very mentally agile are disconcerted by the fact that their means of getting around may disappear. There’s currently no upper-age-limit restricting an older person’s legal entitlement to drive”

and on eye tests:-

“Acting director of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) in Scotland, Billy Watson, says: “Every driver should give their eyes a regular MOT. An eye test isn’t just about whether you need glasses, but also about preventing your sight from getting worse or detecting blinding conditions which may need immediate treatment.”

There also appears to be no upper age limit… hence my aunt was driving into her 100s. I know she loved her independence particularly living in the countryside but she said it was an easy decision to stop, after she had the accidents. I don’t she could have afforded the claims either if she hurts someone or have it on her conscience. My aunt had all her marbles too, and read widely but hey, things ‘do pack up’ at some point.

Personally, I think everyone should have an advanced driving test, for all motorists regularly, people get into bad habits. It’s a good point, that age shouldn’t judge ability but age brings ages more risks.

Now, here is a list for carers and relatives from an Aging Person’s website:-

A checklist on safe elderly driving

Watch for telltale signs of decline in the elderly person’s driving abilities. Do they:

  • Drive at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow?
  • Ask passengers to help check if it is clear to pass or turn?
  • Respond slowly to or not notice pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers?
  • Ignore, disobey or misinterpret street signs and traffic lights?
  • Fail to yield to other cars or pedestrians who have the right-of-way?
  • Fail to judge distances between cars correctly?
  • Become easily frustrated and angry?
  • Appear drowsy, confused or frightened?
  • Have one or more near accidents or near misses?
  • Drift across lane markings or bump into curbs?
  • Forget to turn on headlights after dusk?
  • Have difficulty with glare from oncoming headlights, streetlights, or other bright or shiny objects, especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
  • Have difficulty turning their head, neck, shoulders or body while driving or parking?
  • Ignore signs of mechanical problems, including underinflated tires? (one in 4 cars has at least one tire that is underinflated by 8 pounds or more; low tire pressure is a major cause of accidents.)
  • Have too little strength to turn the wheel quickly in an emergency such as a tire failure, a child darting into traffic, etc.?
  • Get lost repeatedly, even in familiar areas?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes,” you should explore whether medical issues are affecting their driving skills.

Medical issues to consider

Caregivers need to know if the elderly person:

  • Has had their vision and hearing tested recently?
  • Has had a physical examination within the past year to test reflexes and make sure they don’t have illnesses that would impact their driving?
  • Is taking medications or combinations of medications that might make them drowsy or confused while driving?


Going back to my aunt, she fell a number of times:-

  • Has reduced or eliminated their intake of alcohol to compensate for lower tolerance?
  • Has difficulty climbing a flight of stairs or walking more than one block?
  • Has fallen – not counting a trip or stumble – once or more in the last year?
  • Has had a physician told them that they should stop driving?”

    Some doctors are apparently ‘unwilling’ to prevent a person from having their ‘life curtailed’, yet a judge or police, seeing regular problems, may have a different point of view.

  • and I found this on the ‘Torygraph’ on 19/04/08:

    “New curbs could be introduced on older drivers under plans being considered by the Department for Transport”,

    Consultation papers are planned to get better testing for people over 70′.

    “A number of options are available. Mereddyd Hughes, the head of road traffic at the Association of Chief Police Officers, has called for the re-testing of drivers several times during their motoring career.

    A survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists 18 months ago showed that 70 per cent of older drivers would welcome refresher courses.

    Another possibility could be asking doctors to assess elderly motorists when they renewed their licence, although there are fears that this might be difficult for the already stretched NHS.

    A further option, which is considered more likely, is a pen and paper test. Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said: “It is incredibly hard to get a direct link between age and ability to drive. There are some people with Alzheimer’s in their 70s and there are others in their 90s who are still incredibly spritely.”


    The thing is some maybe ‘spritely, but a lot of incredibly frail. My 100 year old aunt was so frail, she could hardly open the car door. I am not sure how many of you have seen 100 year olds in real life. I sometimes wonder how she managed to change gear. She had a job just holding the stairs, at home. Fortunately she had a nurse to help her but she wasn’t around when she was pootling about in her car. She was so wobbly she couldn’t go up our steps for Christmas, again, how can she use the pedals safely?


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