The Road to Driving Retirement
Our support service
We know that when the end of the road to driving retirement comes into view it can cause many heartaches, not only for the driver but also for those closest to the driver.
We have a variety of ways in which we can help you manage that process, from advice about informing the DVLA about a medical condition to looking for ways in which the driver can keep their independence. From investigating what is the likely cause of increased risk in a persons driving to helping the family and driver come to terms with the need to retire.
You have come to realise that someone very close to you is becoming less safe on the road.
You also realise how much driving means to them and what a huge impact it would have on them if they had to stop.
The life they had been used to for many years, giving them freedom and independence, would stop overnight.
Yet, how much worse would it be for many people if they had an accident where someone was killed or injured?
So how do you start a conversation with them?
The ground rules
Remember, above all else, that no one who loves driving likes to be told they are no longer safe.
It doesn't matter how many options you give a driver, such as busses, taxis, walking and volunteer care groups, the relationship with our car is an emotional one which far outweighs any practical advice of alternatives.
So, avoid bringing up the subject suddenly without warning, avoid talking about it straight after an incident and don't be confrontational.
It is far better to introduce the thought about stopping driving at an early stage, such as a while after you have noticed something is not quite right. Discuss the natural ageing effects of ageing and say how no one can escape from in a general sense rather than making it too personal at first.
Above all, however badly you feel about it, you must take positive action to stop your loved one driving when it has clearly become unsafe.
As a passenger you will know what feels safe and what doesn't.
Below are some things which suggest a driver is not able to cope with the degree of decision making required to drive safely. This often comes about through cognitive impairment which can affect concentration, awareness, planning and anticipation.
Being unaware why someone has blown the horn at them
Seeming unaware of vehicles to the sides and behind
Driving too near the white line in the centre of the road
Driving too near obstacles
Seeming not to react when there are potential hazards ahead
Stating a collection a scratches and small dents on the car
Driving much slower than all other traffic
Not being able to find their way to a destination they used to know well.
The Law in the UK.
There are only two circumstances when someone's driving licence can be taken away from them:
1) By the Courts following a conviction such as dangerous driving or drink driving. This often, but not always, follows a collision.
2 ) If DVLA decide that the driver is medically unfit to continue to hold a driving licence. This normally follows a medical enquiry by DVLA which can take many weeks.
The DVLA cannot take someone's licence away simply because they are bad drivers.
So, it often falls upon the family to restrict or stop a person from driving. If the driver develops a medical condition which may affect their driving, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Diabetes that is treated by insulin, they are legally required to notify DVLA.
This would result in a medical enquiry, potentially taking many months, during which time they will be allowed to continue diving unless their doctor has told them not to.
If they refuse to notify DVLA, a family member or other third party can do this anonymously.
Driving with Cognitive Impairment
As we age, the speed at which we can process information slows down. This is a natural process and happens to everyone but to different degrees.
We also become more likely to develop some form of cognitive impairment which shows initially through increased forgetfulness and confusion.
Some will go on to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of Dementia.
Other illnesses such as Stroke or Parkinson's disease can also lead to cognitive impairment.
When a person develops cognitive impairment they are legally required to notify DVLA.
The legal Framework
You must tell the DVLA if you have cognitive problems or severe memory problems.
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result.
At 70 we all have to reapply for our driving licence every three years.
When making this application we have to complete a health questionnaire.
This is normally when drivers declare a known medical condition but you shouldn't wait for this to declare a notifiable condition.
When DVLA receives a notification of cognitive impairment they will normally follow the below process:
- Write to the licence holder to get permission to contact their GP.
- Ask the GP whether the licence holder is fit to drive.
- Occasionally they will require a formal driving assessment to be carried out.
- The medical team at DVLA will use information obtained from these sources to make a decision.
- The licence will then be renewed or revoked.