Safe driving for seniors

Driver with hands on the wheel
  • Drivers 75 to 84 years of age must have an annual medical assessment from their doctor to continue to hold a licence
  • Drivers 85 years of age and over must take a biannual driving assessment or test
  • Drivers can choose whether they take an ‘assessment’ or a ‘test’, as a means of maintaining their unrestricted licence Alternatively, drivers 85 and above can choose not to take a driving assessment or test by opting for a ‘modified’ licence that imposes restrictions on their driving

Our guide to driving assessments and tests for senior drivers

Having a driver’s licence can be about much more than just a convenient means of getting from one place to another. It’s about keeping a sense of independence.
Senior driver licencing laws are designed to keep drivers 75 years and over, and other road users safe. The requirements differ for drivers age 75 to 84 and drivers age 85 and over. These requirements are not unduly difficult to meet and, with the assistance of driver training at the NRMA, it is very possible to stay on the road long into your senior years.

Licence requirements for drivers over 75

In NSW and the ACT, drivers are required to have an annual medical examination to continue to hold a licence from the age of 75.

What to expect:

  • Approximately eight weeks before your birthday a form will be sent to you for your doctor to complete
  • If your doctor considers you medically fit to drive, the completed form needs to be handed into your local motor registry
  • If your doctor has concerns about your ability to drive they may refer you to another doctor or driving assessor for a detailed medical assessment and/or driving test. Your doctor will send the completed form directly to the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and/ you will be notified of the outcome

Licence requirements for drivers over 85

In NSW, as you approach your 85th birthday, and every two years thereafter, you must decide whether you would like to keep your unrestricted driver's licence, or to switch to a modified licence.

What is an unrestricted driver's licence?

An unrestricted licence is a full licence without limitation – it is likely the type of licence you have held for many years. To maintain an unrestricted driver's licence from the age of 85, you must complete a practical driving test or assessment every two years.

What is a 'modified' licence?

Senior drivers may instead choose to have a modified licence upon renewal. Through negotiations with the RMS the conditions of your licence could be modified. For example a 'home to town' condition could be put in place. Modified licence holders are not required to undertake a driving test or assessment.

What is the difference between a Driving Test and a Driving Assessment?

Driving test:

  • Carried out by the RMS at a local motor registry without charge
  • This is a practical driving test with eight ‘fail items’. If you commit one of these fail items during the test, the RMS will not pass you regardless of your overall driving performance
  • A list of the fail items can be found in the Guide to Older Driver Licensing booklet available from the RMS
  • If you don't pass in three attempts, a modified licence will be issued. You may attempt to upgrade to a full licence by successfully passing a Driving Assessment with an accredited assessor
  • You should complete this test prior to your 85th birthday and every two years thereafter

Driving assessment:

  • Carried out by a licensed driving instructor who holds a Senior Assessor Qualification, like the experienced driving instructors at the NRMA
  • Assessments are commonly conducted from your home on the streets you drive every day
  • You can take as many Assessments as you like on the proviso you don't perform a ‘serious fail’ based on the RMS standards
  • A serious fail may be recorded where your driving behaviours represent a danger to yourself and other road users
  • You should complete this Assessment prior to your 85th birthday and every two years thereafter
  • This option is on a fee for service basis
  • Why you should take your assessment with driver training at the NRMA

NRMA driving training offers more than just an assessment – you can choose a combined Refresher and Assessment when making your booking. This allows you time to feel comfortable with the assessor in the car before the assessment begins. It also gives your instructor the opportunity to identify areas for improvement early on, postponing the formal assessment if required and instead booking in for some follow up refresher lessons.

Be assured that NRMA has your best interests at heart. Keeping you safe on our rapidly changing road conditions is our number one priority.

Our friendly instructors are trained to build your confidence and assist you to continue to hold your licence.

Prepare and be confident

Choosing to book a refresher lesson before your driving test or assessment will ensure that you are well prepared. Refresher lessons give you an update on the latest road rules, provide feedback on areas for improvement and increase your knowledge of what the ‘fail items’ are, should you choose to undertake a driving test at a motor registry.

Are you a senior driver and want to keep your licence?

NRMA's driver training team can prepare you for the test