Your health and driving

Elderly man reading newspaper

Looking after your physical and mental health

As we get older, we change physically and mentally, which can affect our driving skills. Being an older driver does not automatically make you a poor driver, as many people continue to be safe drivers well into their retirement years.

A healthy, responsive body, along with an alert mind, requires good nutrition, adequate rest and exercise to stay strong and sharp. Your body and your mind need to be able to process situations and respond quickly.

Physical and mental fitness

Ageing affects physical mobility, from the ability to turn your head to look over your shoulder when backing and changing lanes, to weakness in your arms or legs when steering, braking, or accelerating.

Staying fit and active will help you maintain the muscle strength and the flexibility you need to drive safely. Exercise and physical activity to help maintain your muscle strength and flexibility doesn't have to be strenuous, nor does it require special equipment. Lifting light weight items around the house, or rhythmically squeezing a small ball in your hand or upper arms while watching TV.

There may be an exercise or activity suited to you:

  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Bowling
  • Shopping
  • Dancing
  • Water aerobics
  • Lifting weights
  • Yoga Pilates
  • Resistance bands

Consult your physician on what type of activity is suitable for you before beginning any new exercise program.

Mental exercise is also very beneficial. Keep up with reading, word and number puzzles, or even jigsaw puzzles to sharpen your visual and mental skills.

For more information, download your health and driving information sheet (PDF 122KB)

Safe driving tips

  • Install large side mirrors or a panoramic mirror on your vehicle to help with stiff muscles and turning your head
  • As muscles lose strength, turning the steering wheel can become more difficult. If you’re having trouble, you may want to consider investing in a turning knob
  • Make sure you are well rested before driving. Tired muscles and sore joints can distract you. If need be, stop frequently to rest on longer trips
  • Anticipate danger and give yourself time to react. Stay at least 3 seconds behind the car in front of you (on a highway this is approximately 500 metres)

Need to refresh your skills?

NRMA driver training can help