Safe driving over 75

Practicing safe driving over 75 is important to maintaining your freedom but also looking after your health and safety. Holding a driver’s licence is something that makes us feel free and independent. However, as we age, there are aspects of our health and capabilities that can potentially impact our ability to drive.

Many older drivers still have a great sense of the road (and there’s a lot of young drivers who don’t). The biggest factors in assessing driving competence are eyesight, reaction time, and concentration.

Nobody wants to feel like they’re a problem driver, but unfortunately many older people also don’t realise how their reactions, eyesight or concentration may have changed with age. Of course, it is very confronting to think about giving up driving. It seems like a loss of independence, and to some degree it is. However, compared to causing loss of life by being unaware or simply unable to drive effectively on the road, the inconvenience of not driving yourself is simply incomparable.

So how do you know if you should still be on the road?

In Queensland, everybody over the age of 75 must carry a current Medical certificate for motor vehicle driver form (F3712) in order to continue holding a licence. These certificates are valid for 13 months from the issue date. Obtaining one of these is as simple as making an appointment for a medical assessment with your regular GP. In some cases, your doctor may suggest more regular check-ups than 13 months, if you are prone to or experiencing certain medical conditions. If you’re worried about forgetting to do this before you turn 75, the Government will send you a complimentary reminder 6 weeks prior to your birthday to alert you to book your check-up.

If you’re cleared to drive, try following some of these tips from Department of Transport and Main Roads:

  • Avoid complex and unpredictable situations such as busy intersections and rush hour. If possible, plan an alternative route and travel at a less busy time.
  • Try to avoid busy intersections where you have to make a right-hand turn across the traffic (unless there is a light with a right-turn arrow).
  • Be aware that you take longer to respond quickly in demanding situations when driving and allow for this where possible.Make sure you are up-to-date on the road rules and road signs — especially the rules for more complex situations like major intersections and multi-lane roundabouts.
  • Plan out routes before travelling and stick to familiar routes where possible.Use other forms of transport for more unfamiliar or difficult trips.
  • Keep your concentration and attention while driving by avoiding too many distractions in the car (for example, music, grandchildren and pets).
  • Avoid driving in difficult and demanding weather conditions.
  • Brush up on your driving skills by attending a course or having a professional driver trainer check your driving. This isn’t a test — just some help to let you know how to be at your best.

What if I can’t drive

If you are unable to still hold a licence, never fear. There are always options for those who cannot drive, as many Queenslanders under 75 don’t hold a licence either! Multiple ride share options such as Uber and DiDi are available, as well as regular Taxis. There are also services such as Anglicare that have the ability to assist elderly in their day to day tasks as well as providing lifts to places such as shopping centres and appointments. The Queensland transport service TransLink also offers a fantastic journey planner option for those wanting to take public transport. Simply enter your location you will be leaving from, and where you want to go! The planner will show you all of the public transport options, and even provide you with a map. Public transport has never been easier.

While it may be daunting to lose some aspects of your freedom, your health and safety comes first. Talk to your regular GP about your driving options.