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When Should You Give up Your Driving Licence?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 5 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Give Up Driving Age Medicines Dementia

There are no automatic cut-offs that state when someone should give up driving. Sometimes people have to decide for themselves when to stop. On other occasions, circumstances force them to give up. What’s important is to be aware that certain issues can affect driving skills. These issues can make motoring unsafe for the driver, the passengers and other road users.

Age

Being old does not necessarily mean someone has to stop driving. An older driver can be in good health and in full control of his or her faculties. Generally speaking, though, older people should watch for problems that could prevent safe motoring. These include weakened muscles and stiff joints. Both mean that a driver cannot react with the same speed as before.

Changes to hearing and eyesight may also affect driving skills. An inability to hear other vehicles, and a failure of peripheral vision create serious risks for anyone who takes to the road. Attention spans also change with age. Older people may lose concentration more easily than before. This means that anything other than short driving journeys may be risky.

The best advice is to speak to a doctor.

Dementia

Anyone who develops a health problem associated with old age should also ask a doctor if it’s wise to continue driving. One such problem is dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Even so, many people with early stage dementia feel they are competent to drive. This may well be the case. A doctor can give advice based on a person’s individual condition.

Medicines

There are factors other than age that are relevant to driving and when to give up. Some people, for instance, regularly take strong medicines that cause tiredness. Check the labels and leaflets of medicines. Many warn of drowsiness. These are the medicines that often combat diabetes, pain, depression and allergies.

Drivers taking such medicines must ask if it’s sensible to drive. One of the main causes of accidents on the roads is tiredness. And drowsiness brought on by medicines can exacerbate this situation.

Illness

Some illnesses affect a driver’s awareness and functions. Diabetes, for instance, may lead to dizziness, trembling and confusion when the blood sugar level drops. Parkinson’s disease slows down a driver’s movements and causes shaking. And strokes may result in poor vision and loss of balance.

The severity of the symptoms of these and other problems varies. It’s also possible to control the symptoms with medicine. It may therefore seem possible to drive safely. But anyone who suffers from a serious illness should take medical advice about when and if to stop using a vehicle.

Pregnancy

Some pregnant women drive until the day they give birth. If a pregnant woman is feeling healthy enough to drive, there’s nothing to stop her.

Other factors may prevent driving during pregnancy, however. Some women no longer feel comfortable in the driving seat. Others cannot fit easily behind the wheel. And some worry about the position of the seat belt across their bodies.

The decision to give up driving may therefore be a mix of the personal and practical.

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