Direct Line magazine

Driving advice for older people

Updated on: 25 September 2020

an older couple look at a map placed on top of their car

Once you have passed your driving test, providing that you stay in good health or don't get disqualified, you are generally entitled to keep driving until you reach your 70th birthday. At 70, your licence expires and will need to be renewed.

What happens when you reach 70 and your licence expires?

Ignore the myths, drivers do not have to retake their tests once they hit 70, all you have to do is renew your licence.

Renewing your licence

There is no legal age at which you have to stop driving, so whether you renew your licence is up to you.

It is your responsibility to decide whether you are still fit enough to drive. By law, you have to renew your licence when you reach the age of 70, and then every three years after that.

Ninety days before your 70th birthday, the DVLA should send you a D46P Application for renewal of a driving licence. You can either fill this in and return it by post, or you can use the DVLA's online service to renew. There is no fee for renewal.

If you have a C1 or D1 entitlement – for minibuses or towing vehicles – and you intend to renew this as well, you must enclose a D4 'medical examination report' completed by a doctor in support of your application.

Keep an eye on your health

All drivers, no matter how old they are, must notify the DVLA of the onset or worsening of a medical condition which may affect their ability to drive safely.

The medical conditions are listed in the DVLA's leaflet 'What you need to know about driving licences' and include:

  • Certain eye conditions

  • Diabetes

  • Epilepsy

  • Heart conditions

  • Parkinson's Disease

  • Problems using limbs in a way that will affect the ability to drive

Remember, it’s illegal to drive if you can't read a number plate from 20.5 metres away – so if you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is up to date.

"Ignore the myths, drivers do not have to retake their tests once they hit 70"

Are you still a good driver?

As we get older, we tend to pick up bad habits. If you’re 70 and passed your test when you were 25, it's been a long time since your driving was professionally assessed.

No matter what age you are, if you are concerned about your driving then you can book an Experienced Driver Assessment with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This costs £35 and is not a 'test' – you will be assessed by a RoSPA-qualified driver who will give you a report on your driving and advise you on how you can improve your skills or drive more safely.

You know best

Driving is hugely important to many older people, and deciding to give up the car can have a detrimental effect. As mentioned above, the decision is entirely in your hands and there is no legal requirement to stop. However, if you find that you are having trouble driving, you don't feel as confident or safe or are simply not comfortable driving, then talk to family, friends and your doctor and have a think about whether you should continue driving.

Of course, if you intend to keep on driving after you reach 70, you should always make sure that you have the appropriate car insurance cover.

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