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The Pros And Cons Of Driving During Retirement

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 8 Mar 2011 | comments*Discuss
Older Drivers Driving Motorists Health

Driving can be a pleasure and a necessity at any age. But driving during retirement may bring some hazards and can prove to be an expensive pursuit.

Does It Matter How Old A Driver Gets?

The older the driver, the more experienced they are, especially if they have been driving for many years. But driving also needs a certain amount of focus, good eyesight and quick reflexes. For people in later life, these driving skills can diminish naturally, and this can be a danger to the motorist and to other road users. Giving up the independence of driving during retirement can be hard, but if health issues do come into play there may be no other option.

Are Older Drivers A Danger To Others?

Statistics show that drivers over the age of 65 have fewer accidents, but this is mainly because they travel fewer miles than other driver age groups. However, older motorists have one of the highest accident rates, with the exception of drivers under 25, when the accident rate per number of miles driven is compared. But older motorists tend to drive less during the night and avoid periods when traffic is heavy. Older drivers are also less likely to endanger others by speeding, dangerous driving or driving while under the influence of alcohol.

How Does Age Affect Driving Skills?

As the body ages our reflexes and coordination skills slow down. Older people can become tired more easily and this can lead to a lack of focus, especially when driving long distances. Hearing and eyesight will usually be impaired in elderly drivers, and their ability to process information and assess driving hazards can also take longer. All of these factors can make an older driver more prone to accidents.

Is There An Age Limit When Driving?

No, there is no upper age limit and motorists can drive well into later life. Drivers need to renew their licence once they have reached the age of 70 if they wish to continue to drive. They must also renew their driving licence every three years after this age.

Can GPs Stop People From Driving?

GPs can not only recommend people stop driving due to medical reasons. They also have a duty to report them to the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Doctors do have to inform the DVLA if they think their patients could have an impairment that will affect their driving, and can recommend that patients stop driving due to heart conditions. It can also be the case that prescription medicine may impair driving due to drowsiness.

Are There Any Benefits Of Driving Later In Life?

Freedom and independence are two of the major reasons why people start driving regardless of age. Having a car for shopping trips or simply getting out and about is usually easier than using public transport. Many older people, especially retirees who have the time, love to take driving holidays both in the UK and abroad. Driving may also be a necessity rather than a luxury for people who live in rural areas.

Is The Expense Of A Car Putting Older Drivers Off?

Cars have become a major financial expense and do take a chunk out of any household budget. Even motorists who don't use their cars regularly will still have expensive annual costs to pay. This will include insurance, tax, servicing and MOT, not to mention the ever increasing price of fuel. But these factors don't seem to deter older motorists, and estimates have shown that by the year 2021 there will be over three million drivers over the age of 70 in the UK.

Is Public Transport A Better Option Than The Car?

Public transport can be an option and will work out less expensive than running a car. Senior citizens in the UK do benefit from free bus passes, and there are concessions on coach and rail travel in the UK. Public transport is also the greener option for those who have environmental concerns - although it may not be the ideal option when it comes to a weekly shopping trip.

What Should I Do If I’m Worried About Driving?

A doctor can give an assessment if there are health issues that could be causing driving problems. Anyone worried about their driving can also ask a driving instructor to assess their skills. Older drivers can book an experienced driver assessment test through the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

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