Physical and mental fitness

We believe people should be able to drive as long as they want to and are safe to do so. There is no 'right' age when we should restrict or stop our driving.

To drive safely we need to be physically fit enough to: 

  • Reach for and buckle our seat belt
  • Turn to check blind spots
  • Grip and control the steering wheel
  • Press the correct foot pedals
  • Operate controls such as those for headlights and windscreen wipers

Mental fitness is also critical for safe driving. We need to be able to:

  • Recognize traffic signs
  • React to all available information
  • Be aware of what other vehicles are doing
  • Notice when traffic lights change
  • Be alert to someone suddenly stepping out in front of us

Physical fitness

Exercise can help reduce age related decreases in our physical ability. It is recommended, where possible, that adults 65 years or older take part in at least 2-3 hours of weekly aerobic activity.  This should be spread out into sessions of 10 minutes.

It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week to help and maintain posture and balance.

Flexibility obviously varies from person to person. Therefore it is important that when someone is doing these exercises they only stretch as far as is comfortable, move slowly at first and stop if there is any pain. We also recommend that you consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise activity.

Guidelines for physical activity for older people

Mental fitness

As we get older, our brains need more time to process information. This can affect our ability to read traffic signs and react to something unexpected on the road.  However, we can slow that decline by actively engaging our brain in mentally stimulating activities.

Activities such as playing cards and doing jigsaw puzzles, crosswords or Sudoku can help keep our minds sharp. There are also many online memory and mind stimulation games and smartphone apps available.

Preparing to drive

If you get into a car that someone else has just driven, check that the mirrors are correctly adjusted for you. To drive safely we need to make sure that our car is adjusted so that it fits us as well as possible.

Proper positioning of the mirrors, seat and steering wheel gives us greater steering control and can dramatically increase how much of the road and our surroundings we can see.

 preparing to drive