Senior Driving Lessons

By NRMA Motoring on 23 March 2017
Elderly lady driving

Ageing does not mean you will have to stop driving

If you're used to getting around independently, the idea of being without a driver's licence or car is an awful thought. While many people stay well enough all their lives to drive, it's easier for you and your family if you think about being without a licence early in case it does become an issue.

It may help to talk with others about the challenges associated with ageing and the impact it will have on your driving. Friends and family may have ideas about arrangements you can make or how they can help.

Thinking about your options

It is important to think about the options available to you. For example, if you decide not to drive, keeping your car so others can drive you in it might be an option.

Are you thinking about moving to another house or to a retirement village? If so, consider these factors:

  • Is it close to friends and family?
  • Are there shops, library, medical services, church, and recreation facilities in the area within walking distance or a short drive away?
  • Are there other people of similar age and interests in the area who could share driving to events?
  • Is there convenient public transport in the area? Are there seats at bus stops, are there stairs but no lifts at the railway station?
  • Does the area have safe footpaths and pedestrian crossings? Is there good street lighting?
  • Is there a community transport program in the area?
  • Is catching a taxi or using an Uber an option?
  • Do the supermarkets or shops in the area home deliver?
  • Be sure to ask friends and family if they would like to share the driving. They might also have ideas about other transport options.
  • Does your spouse or partner have their driver’s licence? Would they be able to do the driving? By sharing the driving now, both of you can retain your skills and confidence for as long as possible.

Your health and driving

Ageing brings physical and mental change. While these changes can, and do, have an effect on your driving skills, getting older does not automatically make you a poor driver - nor does it mean you will lose your licence. You have control over lifestyle choices that may affect your health, which in turn affects your driving.

No matter what your condition or age, there is some type of exercise or activity will benefit you. You could try:

  • Walking 
  • Gardening 
  • Bowling 
  • Shopping 
  • Dancing 
  • Aquarobics 
  • Lifting weights

The important thing is to be active and do what you find comfortable. Ask your physician about the types of activities that would be suitable for you - be sure to consult them before beginning any new exercise program.

Mental exercise is important - reading, word or number puzzles and jigsaw puzzles sharpen your visual search skills.

Safe driving tips

  • Turning your head to see behind you can be difficult if you have stiff joints. Install large side mirrors and/or a panoramic mirror on your vehicle.
  • As your muscles lose strength, turning the steering wheel can get harder. Don't swing wide on turns to compensate. Drive a vehicle with power steering. If you still have trouble, try using a turning knob. 
  • Avoid being distracted by tired muscles and sore joints by being well-rested before driving. If on a long drive, stop frequently. 
  • Give yourself time to react by staying at least three seconds behind the car in front of you. Watch out for other drivers and anticipate danger.

Need to refresh your driving skills?

The NRMA driver training team can help