Is there an age limit on driving?

If you’re nearing your golden years, you may be wondering if it’s legal for you to keep driving. Are there any UK laws that prevent you from getting behind the wheel once you reach a certain age? And what can you expect from your car insurance premium? Let’s take a look.

If you’re nearing your golden years, you may be wondering if it’s legal for you to keep driving. Are there any UK laws that prevent you from getting behind the wheel once you reach a certain age? And what can you expect from your car insurance premium? Let’s take a look.

Daniel Hutson
Motor insurance expert
7
minute read
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Posted 16 JANUARY 2020 Last Updated 25 MARCH 2022

Is there an age limit for driving in the UK?

No, there’s currently no maximum driving age in the UK. However, once you reach the age of 70, your licence will expire and you’ll have to renew it if you want to continue driving. You’ll also need to have it renewed every three years from that point until you decide to hang up your car keys for good.

What can I expect from the licence renewal process?

About three months before your 70th birthday, you’ll get a D46P application form from the DVLA – or the DVA in Northern Ireland. The licence renewal process will vary depending on whether you own a paper or photocard licence:

  • If you have a paper licence, you’ll need to complete the form and submit it with a new passport photo.
  • If you already have a photocard licence, you’ll have to submit that along with the completed form – in some cases you may need to send a new passport photo. Just be sure to double check the instructions.

On the form, you’ll be asked to complete a medical declaration detailing any medical conditions you have and confirming that your eyesight is good enough to satisfy driving eyesight rules. Answer all questions about your health honestly – failing to disclose a notifiable medical condition is a serious offence.

How much will it cost to renew my licence?

Drivers over 70 can renew their licence free of charge.

Do I need to go to the DVLA to renew my licence?

No, you can’t go to the DVLA in person to renew your licence. The DVLA has closed its local offices and no longer offers in-person services. You can do it by post or online. If you want to renew your licence online, you can do so on the gov.co.uk website and you’ll normally receive your new licence within one week.

Am I allowed to drive while my licence is being renewed?

You can drive while your licence is being renewed, but only under certain conditions. You’ll need to be given the okay by your doctor, and you must have had a valid licence. Your renewal application can’t be more than a year old and, of course, you can’t drive if your licence was revoked or refused for medical reasons, or you’ve been disqualified from driving.

How to stay safe as an older driver 

You may have learned to drive last century, but that doesn’t mean you’re an unsafe driver! However, there are a few extra safety considerations to bear in mind: 

  • Get regular eye tests. You should get your eyesight checked every two years as a minimum but go immediately if you notice any change in your vision.
  • Check your hearing. If you have difficulty hearing, you may not hear horns or sirens.
  • Speak to your GP if you have any health conditions you think may impact your ability to drive safely or if driving is causing you any physical pain.
  • Plan out journeys ahead of time. Work out your route in advance and plan plenty of stops to break up long journeys.
  • Avoid driving at night, especially if you have trouble with your vision in low light or it makes you feel stressed.
  • Don’t drive if you feel tired. Don’t drive at times when you tend to feel drowsy, such as in the late afternoons, and be careful with any new medications.
  • Avoid distractions. Turn your phone on silent and avoid distracting conversations or loud music.
  • Avoid driving in bad weather if you can.
  • Avoid driving at busy times. One of the benefits of being retired is not having to travel in rush hour, so take full advantage.
  • Keep your confidence. Take your car out for a spin every now and then to stay in practice.
  • Modify your car if physical pain or stiffness are getting in the way of you driving and apply for a blue badge to get accessible parking if you have any trouble walking.

When should I stop driving?

That’s for you and your doctor to decide. It may be time to think about alternative transport if your reactions are starting to slow. A health condition that might impact your driving ability, degenerating eyesight or finding driving increasingly stressful could also be reasons to stop. 

Retiring from driving is a big step and it can often be quite an emotional decision, so it’s important to be prepared. If you think the time to quit is drawing near, speak to your family and friends and start looking into alternative transport arrangements that will help you keep your independence.

What is an Experienced Driver Assessment (EDA) and who is it for? 

If you or your loved ones have any concern about you continuing to drive – or you just want to prove that you’ve still got it – you may choose to take an Experienced Driver Assessment (EDA). 

EDAs are designed for drivers over the age of 65 to help boost driving skills and confidence. They also identify any areas that could be improved to make you a safer driver. EDAs are offered by charities such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and IAM RoadSmart, as well as local authorities, normally for a small fee. 

There are two types of EDA available: 

  • In-depth assessments for those with a medical condition or disability that could affect their driving, run by the Driving Mobility Organisation.
  • Standard refresher courses to help older drivers improve their driving skills and feel confident on the road.

What does an EDA involve? 

If you take a standard EDA, an assessor will normally join you for about an hour for a drive in your own car, on roads near your home that you’ll be familiar with. It’s not a pass or fail test, it’s an informal, confidential assessment for your own peace of mind. At the end of the assessment, you’ll get a report detailing how you’ve done, and advice on areas you can improve upon, perhaps through further training.

If you, the DVLA or your GP decide a Driving Mobility assessment is necessary, you’ll be assessed by a specially trained instructor in a car with dual controls. They will determine how your medical condition, disability or physical impairment is affecting your ability to stay safe on the roads and if you should continue to drive. They’ll also be able to recommend any car adaptations you may need to drive safely and comfortably.

Do older drivers pay higher premiums for car insurance?

Drivers over the age of 70 may find they’re quoted higher premiums than those in their 60s. They’ll usually pay less than young drivers, though. 

How can I save money on car insurance if I’m over the age of 70?

The secret is to shop around and compare. Here at Compare the Market, we can gather quotes from a wide range of car insurance providers in the UK, on your behalf. Why not give it a try? It could be the easiest way to see if you can save.

Frequently asked questions

Can I renew my licence before I turn 70?

You can get the ball rolling up to three months before your 70th birthday, but no sooner.

What if the DVLA hasn’t sent me the D46P application form?

Just give them a call on 0300 790 6801 to request one. You can also visit the post office and get a D1 form, or order one online.

Are older drivers more likely to have accidents?

According to data from the Department for Transport released in 2016, the rate of collisions per number of miles travelled does start to increase for car drivers over the age of 70, but drivers aged 71-75 still had a lower rate of collisions than every age bracket of car drivers under 45.

Do I need to have a medical exam before I renew my licence at 70?

You don’t need to get a medical check-up before you renew your licence, but it could be a good idea to check everything is in working order. You’re legally required to notify the DVLA of any medical conditions that can affect your ability to drive.

Do I need to take an eye test before I renew my licence at 70?

When you renew your licence, you’ll need to confirm that you meet the eyesight regulations for safe driving. Although you won’t need to do this specifically for the licence renewal, it’s a good idea to have your eyes tested every two years, so it’s as good a time as any.

Will I need to retake my test when I turn 70?

Normally no, you won’t need to take a test to renew your licence when you turn 70, but if you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to drive safely, the DVLA may ask you to take an assessment through a local Mobility Centre or your local authority to prove you’re fit to be on the road.

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