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Elderly People Driving: How, Why & When to Stop

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

The importance of driving to an elderly person can vary greatly. If an older person has access to great public transit or has friends living just down the street, driving a car may not matter so much. But for elderly people who live farther from regular buses and trains, or those who just enjoy the ability to go wherever they like whenever they like, driving can feel like a crucial part of their identity. Older people may also fear that without driving, they’ll become socially isolated and lonely.

Given these factors, it’s very understandable why some elderly people are very reluctant to give up driving. Yet it’s also a fact that sometimes driving is no longer safe for the elderly.

When should elderly people stop driving, if ever? How can family and friends make the transition away from driving easier and more appealing? And do you know how to stop an elderly person from driving if it becomes necessary? We’ll discuss these questions and more in this article.

Why can driving be dangerous for the elderly?

There are many reasons why driving can be risky for the elderly, including:

  • Dementia
  • Medical conditions related to diminished sight and hearing
  • Medical conditions related to movement and the ability to manoeuvre a car – this might include conditions like arthritis that make a senior less able to steer
  • Slower reflexes or decreased alertness – this might be due to medications that cause “fogginess” or due to tiredness if an older person isn’t sleeping well
  • Epilepsy in some cases, if a GP says so

When should the elderly stop driving?

Firstly, it’s important to know that there is no age at which a person has to stop driving, although elderly people over the age of 70 do have to renew their licences more frequently – every three years.

The most important factor is simply whether an older person is safe on the road. This includes whether their driving could endanger themself or someone else.

Observations of unsafe driving

One way you might realise that an older person is unsafe to drive is simply by observing them as they drive. Do they miss seeing things, react too slowly, drive too close to obstacles or kerbs, or do anything else that raises concerns? Do they get angry or flustered while driving? If so, it’s worth considering whether they should reduce or give up driving.

Accidents, damage or fines

If an older person has actually damaged their car or incurred driving penalties, these are significant red flags indicating they may not be safe to drive.

Health conditions

When it comes to “notifiable” health conditions that affects an elderly person’s driving, the decision about whether they are safe to drive with this condition is up to the DVLA.

By law, if a person develops a “notifiable” health condition that affects their driving, they have to notify the DVLA. The rules around different conditions work differently, so having one of these conditions doesn’t always automatically mean that a person can’t drive.

In some cases, the DVLA will contact the person’s doctor for more information about whether they are safe to drive or not. However, a person who develops one of these conditions does always have to notify the DVLA about the condition. In fact, not notifying the DVLA about a notifiable health condition could result in a £1,000 fine – or even prosecution.

Take a look at the A-Z list of notifiable health conditions and guidance for each to learn more.

How to stop elderly parents from driving & UK law

Conversation about alternatives

If you’re concerned about an older relative’s ability to drive and the DVLA is not involved due to any notifiable health condition, the first step is to have a conversation about driving.

It’s best to bring up the topic gently and to think ahead about ways that an older person can continue to do their regular activities and meet their needs without driving, such as by using public transport, getting a ride with a friend or having groceries delivered. This way, the conversation can feel like it’s not about stopping doing the things that are important to them, but rather about finding different avenues to do those things.

An older person can voluntarily surrender their licence to the DVLA if they like.

Help from a GP

Another possible step is to ask your older relative to check with their GP about their safety to drive. GPs can offer opinions and advice, and they can help seniors to access driving assessments through Driving Mobility Centres. You can also find a Driving Mobility Centre yourself and arrange for an assessment.


If an older person doesn’t wish to speak to their GP or undertake a driving assessment, what happens then? Who can tell you how to stop an elderly person from driving?

UK drivers have to obey the DVLA and police’s decisions about their safety to drive. Therefore, if an older person isn’t open to discussions about stopping driving, you can contact the DVLA or the police with your concerns. If the dangerous driving is due to a medical condition, contact the DVLA. If the dangerous driving doesn’t appear to be connected to a medical condition, contact the police.

Removing access to cars

In the most serious situations, elderly people can continue driving even after the DVLA has rescinded their right to drive. This may happen when an older person is suffering dementia that means they cannot understand that they are not safe, or they don’t remember they are not allowed to drive.

In this case, it’s imperative to prevent them from getting into and driving their car. This can mean keeping the car keys away from them or even removing the car from their property.

Keeping elderly people safe both at home and out and about

Many of the medical conditions that affect older people’s driving can affect their safety outside of a car as well. For example, the stiffness and pain of arthritis can increase risk of falls. The disorientation that can follow an epileptic seizure can also cause falls or other accidents. And a person with diabetes, another “notifiable” condition, might need to call for help fast if they suddenly encounter a blood sugar crisis.

A small step that can bring great peace of mind about safety is getting a personal alarm. When falling is a concern, an alarm with automatic fall detection offers the security of knowing that help will always be called if a senior falls – no need for them to press a button.

Alarms with fall detection often also offer one-touch functionalities that allow an older person to call for help with just one touch of a button. This offers protection in cases where a fall hasn’t happened but an older person still needs help – such as if blood sugar is crashing or an older person is disoriented and needs help.

Best of all, you can get personal alarms with GPS tracking that work outside the home as well. That means that an older person truly doesn’t have to give up their ability to socialise and be active for the sake of keeping safe, because their alarm works wherever they are and will share their location.

How SureSafe offers security for older people with long-term health conditions

At SureSafe, we’re dedicated to providing personal alarms for the elderly that offer peace of mind for innumerable health conditions - and our 4.8 out of 5 star rating on is a testament to the reliability and quality of our alarms.

Whether you’re thinking of a sleek wrist alarm or convenient talking pendant alarm, we’re happy to chat with you about which alarms and functionalities will best suit your elderly loved one and their needs. You can call us on 0800 112 3201, use our live chat or request a call back.

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