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Assessments/Older Drivers

The Older Driver

The Older Driver

People today are living longer and older drivers represent an increasing percentage of road users. The process of ageing has implications for driving/road safety.

For many, especially in rural areas, driving is essential to quality of life. Driving represents independence, integrity and confidence. It also provides a means to access necessary services, social interaction with family, friends and community.

The loss of driving privilege impacts on self esteem, can result in isolation, affects a person’s independence and can contribute to other social and health issues.

As a general rule, older drivers are safe drivers. Having many years of practice and recognising their own limitations, most impose self restrictions on their driving to match their abilities.

As we age, decline in eyesight, hearing, physical mobility etc. including health conditions and/or medication may have an impact on driving ability.

Roads have become more complex, speeds have increased, therefore a higher demand on driving skills is required. Because of this increasing demand, drivers need to be continuously  improving to meet the challenges.

It is in everyone’s interest to keep older drivers mobile through driving for as long as possible, provided they are safe to do so.

In being proactive, anyone having concerns regarding driving ability, should discuss it with their general practitioner. A thorough  medical review can be conducted.

Following this review, a person may avail of the following services that can contribute to road safety and assist people in making better decisions.

A driver assessment. See Driving Assessments.
A driver refresher course  (updating of driving skills)
A driver rehabilitation course. (returning to driving following a disability)

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Older Driver Refresher Course

A refresher course is intended to improve a person’s driving skills to feel confident and competent on today’s busy and complex roads.
It is ideal for someone who has not been driving for a long time and wishes to restore their confidence.
It is also for anyone who would benefit from learning new routes.

For further information see Driving Courses

Anyone applying for a learner permit or renewing their driver’s licence at 70 years of age or more, should contact their GP and comply with the Medical Fitness to Drive Guidelines.

View/Download RSA ‘Sláinte agus Tiomáint’ >>(PDF format).

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Warning Signs For Drivers whose skills are decreasing

Confused on how to unlock the car
Confused or forgetting how to start the engine
Confused between the wipers and indicators
Forgetting how to use the interior controls
Incorrect signaling
Forgetting to use the mirrors safely
Incorrect sequencing of the gears affecting the progress of the vehicle
Incorrect use of the accelerator/clutch resulting in high revs, or gears grinding
Forgetting which lane to use on familiar routes
Driving either too fast or too slow, for the road and/or traffic conditions
Late reaction to road or traffic situations ahead
Confused at familiar roundabouts or familiar junctions
Unable to maintain a consistent correct position and drifting over the centre of the road or into other lanes
Failing to notice traffic warning signs or traffic lights
Getting lost in familiar places
Impulsive and not willing to wait at junctions
Increased aggression towards other road users
Stopping in traffic for no reason
Unsure regarding the right of way at familiar junctions
Delayed in deciding when to move off at junctions, despite no approaching vehicles
Bumping kerbs
Increased car damage
Road accidents, two or more in a short time period
Poor attention resulting in late braking, near misses, inconvenience to other road users
Difficulty judging space or distances

Be vigilant in your observations and objective in your decisions. Avoid mistaking habitual driving styles with decreasing driving skills.

Arrange opportunities to travel with the driver but be discrete in your observations, as driving errors may increase if one is feeling under scrutiny.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. At what age does a driver have to stop driving ?
A. There is no age limit on driving, provided a person is safe to do so. After seventy years of age, a driver must have a medical report completed by their G P to renew their driver’s licence.

Q. Do older driver’s have to resit their driving test ?
A. No. However, an older driver may avail of a refresher driving course to update and maintain their driving skills.

Q. I have a full driver’s licence. I recently had my car adapted and will be returning to drive. Do I have to retake my driving test ?
A. No. Provided you hold a full licence for the vehicle you are driving, if you have it adapted and return or continue to drive, you are not required to retake a driving test.

Q. How many years will my licence have to be out of date, before I have to return to a learner permit and start from the beginning?
A. Ten years.

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