Ultimately it is a person’s general health and fitness rather than their age that determines their ability to drive. This is why there is no fixed upper age-limit for driving in the UK.
On this page you can find information relating to:
1. Legal requirements to drive
2. Your relative's GP
4. Other professionals
Legal requirements to drive
The legal requirements for driving in the UK are largely the same for everyone, regardless of age: drivers must posses a valid driving licence, insurance, an MOT certificate (where applicable) and road tax.
There are only two age-related differences in the rules of driving, both of which come into effect at 70. They are:
Once a driver reaches 70, they are required by the DVLA to declare that they have no medical disability.
From 70 onward, drivers need to renew their license every three years (as opposed to every ten years for younger drivers).
DVLA and older drivers
It is important to be aware that, at any age, the process for applying for a driving licence (including renewals) relies on self-assessment. Whether under or over 70, applicants are not required by the DVLA to take any health or eyesight tests; nor are they asked to provide any health certificates or letters from their GP or optician.
There are certain health conditions, including problems with eyesight, which drivers must report to the DVLA. This is a legal obligation and again, it applies to everyone, irrespective of age. The Government maintains an up-to-date website giving details of the health conditions that must be reported.
Your relative’s GP
If a GP has cause to believe that one of their patients is unfit to drive, they will almost always discuss this in the first instance with the patient. In some instances, GPs may choose to contact the DVLA directly if they are particularly concerned about someone who is unfit to drive. However, they should do this only after discussing their concerns with the patient.
Some GPs are reluctant to contact the DVLA directly, largely due to concerns over breach of confidentiality. There are guidelines stating that GPs have a responsibility to report unfit drivers, but they are first asked to strike a balance ‘between disclosing information in the public interest and protecting the confidentiality of a patient.’ The advice GPs are given on this issue (by various professional organisations) is not always consistent and tends to change over time.
Opticians are responsible for carrying out eye tests, and they will be able to tell your relative if their eyesight (or eye health) may make them unfit to drive. However, there is no legal requirement for an optician to advise the authorities if they have concerns regarding a particular individual; indeed, it would be very unlikely for an optician to do this.
A number of other professionals who come into contact with your relative (such as occupational therapists, district nurses, social services), may have reason for concern over your relative’s driving. It may be something your relative has said to them, or they may have noticed a particular health condition and suspected this would affect their driving ability.
Again, there is no legal obligation for people in these professions to report your relative as unsafe to drive. They should express their concerns directly to your relative. In some instances, the professional might contact family members or friends of the person concerned, but note that they have no obligation to do so.
- Useful tips for older drivers: helpful advice about continuing to drive.
- What can affect safe driving?: information on conditions that might affect your relative’s ability to drive safely.
- Vision and hearing problems: if you are concerned about your loved one's vision, read our article to find out how to get help.
Page last reviewed: 31 January 2016
Next review due: 31 August 2017