Older drivers – deciding when to stop driving
There’s no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving. Find out how changes to your health can affect your driving and how to give up your licence, if needed.
What you need to consider as an older driver
You must renew your driving licence every three years after you turn 70 but there are no laws on what age you must stop driving.
Unless your health or eyesight suddenly get worse, it can be difficult to know when you should stop driving.
Your safety and the safety of other road users are the most important things to consider. If you’re concerned that your driving is not as good as it was, don’t wait for an accident to convince you to stop.
It may be time to give up driving if:
- your reactions are noticeably slower than they used to be
- you find traffic conditions increasingly stressful
- your eyesight is getting worse
- you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to drive safely – ask your GP for advice
The law on medical conditions and driving
You must tell the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) about any medical conditions that may affect your ability to drive safely. This could be previous health conditions that have worsened or new ones.
If you’re involved in an accident where your health condition may have been a factor, you could be prosecuted. Your insurance may also not cover you.
Check whether you need to notify the DVA of your medical condition.
- Telling DVA about a condition
- Medical questionnaires for Lorry and Bus licence holders
- What happens after you have told DVA about your medical condition
- Medical questionnaires for car or motorcycle licensing holders
The effect of prescription medication on driving
If you’re on prescribed medication, ask your doctor if it could affect your driving. Some medicines can cause drowsiness, dizziness or difficulty concentrating.
Some common over-the-counter medicines like painkillers or flu and cold remedies, may impair your driving. Always check the prescription label or ask your pharmacist about medicines you buy over the counter.
The law on eyesight and driving
It’s illegal to drive if you can’t read a number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres. If you need glasses or contact lenses to see this far, make sure you wear them every time you drive.
As you get older, your eyes can change without you realising. By having regular eye tests, your optician will be able to spot early signs of conditions that affect your ability to drive. These include:
If you think that your vision is changing, speak to your optician, GP or specialist. They will be able to tell you whether you need to report any condition to the DVA.
Driving if you have cataracts
If you have cataracts but still meet the eyesight standard for driving, you should avoid driving at night or into very bright sunlight.
Help with disabilities and driving
If driving is becoming difficult because of reduced mobility, you may be able to have your vehicle adapted. This could involve having a ramp or lift fitted to help you get in and out of your vehicle.
How to get an assessment of your driving skills
If you’re worried about your fitness to drive, talk to your GP or a health professional. You could also ask a driving instructor for an assessment to get an objective (and confidential) assessment of your driving skills.
What to do if you decide to stop driving
You should contact the DVA and tell them that you’re giving up your driving licence. If you have a medical condition, you’ll need to fill in a form and send it back to the DVA together with your licence.
Travelling after giving up your licence
Giving up driving doesn't need to mean the end of your independence. You could use public transport instead. As you get older, you'll become eligible for free bus travel and concessions in Northern Ireland.