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Cars > stvethmsn’s Garage > Blog > How Old is too Old To Drive?


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M –31
Los Angeles, California
United States


How Old is too Old To Drive?

By stvethmsn

Thanks to advances in medicine and healthier lifestyles, people today are living longer than ever before. By 2035 it’s been estimated that nearly a quarter of the British population will be aged 65 or over. An elongated lifespan is good news in many respects, but it can raise complications too - for example at what age do people become unsafe behind the wheel of a car? The sad fact is that as we age, our bodies and minds begin to deteriorate, meaning many of the abilities we need to drive well become less reliable.

Common ailments of elderly people (and some younger!) include rheumatism and arthritis. This can make it harder to do things like turn the neck to check blind spots, reach brake pedals quickly, or turn the steering wheel. Many cars, of course, now come with features that can help, visit here for example, to see how many vehicles come with power steering as standard. But when your reflexes start to noticeably slow down, or it gets too uncomfortable to be behind the wheel for any length of time, it may be time to think about selling the car.

No doubt one day, in the distant future, some other tech company will invent a car that can be safely driven by the blind, but until that point we have to face the fact that failing eyesight is a hazard on the roads. Obviously it can be corrected up to a point with contact lenses or glasses, but as we age our peripheral vision becomes narrower - it becomes harder to spot cyclists or pedestrians who may be at risk. We need more light to see, meaning driving at night becomes especially worrisome. And eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma become a major problem for many elderly people too.

Similarly, hearing difficulties exacerbated by age can also be treated with hearing aids or medical procedures, but if we are unable to hear sirens, horns or shouts from the pavement, then we are not alert to possible dangers on the road.

While people in the early stages of unpleasant illnesses such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer's may be able to continue driving for a while, if the disease worsens then they will certainly understandably be unable to carry on. Other illnesses, while not in themselves impairing driving abilities, can require prescription medicines, some of which can cause dizziness or drowsiness.

It’s vital for drivers to remain calm under pressure, to have good reaction times and long attention spans. Unfortunately as we get older these all suffer. Certain driving conditions, such as bad weather, or motorway journeys, can be very stressful to elderly drivers, particularly if they are exacerbated by eyesight issues. That’s not to say of course that people from other age groups find them especially enjoyable at all times! As we age our reaction times slow down, and our attention span weakens.

When looking at it like this, it might be easy to think that elderly drivers are risky, when in fact quite the opposite is true. People in their 60s are the least likely of all age groups to be involved in an accident, perhaps because they tend to be more cautious at roundabouts or junctions, or when overtaking, better at decision-making, and less likely to speed.

The law states that once we turn 70 our driving license needs to be renewed every three years, which seems fair given this is when we are most likely to be seeing physical and mental deterioration.

But the question asks how old is too old to drive - beyond seeking a doctor’s advice, perhaps we should leave the decision with the driver him or herself. They should notice when their reaction times are getting slow or they are finding driving increasingly stressful.

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Cars > stvethmsn’s Garage > Blog > How Old is too Old To Drive?

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