At some point in our lives we will have to decide that we are not able to drive any longer. This will hopefully be at a ripe old age and before our deteriorating faculties make us a danger to ourselves or others on the road. This condition is obviously something we all have to look out for but there may be other issues besides age that may affect our ability to drive safely, need our consideration.
How old is too old?
This of course will depend on the individual concerned. Many older drivers continue to drive perfectly safely well into their seventies and beyond. In the UK, after the age of 70, a driver is required to renew their driving licence every 3 years. They must be able to fulfil the DVLA's eyesight test and also to notify them of any medical problems that may affect their driving ability.
The main issue is that when it comes to identifying the potential health problems that may affect our driving as we get older. Issues like visual perception, hearing or cognitive impairment will often take time manifest themselves, and so it may down to other younger members of the family or friends to look out for problems and suggest that seeking medical advice might be advisable before continuing driving.
Driving during pregnancy
There is no particular reason why a healthy pregnant woman should not continue to drive throughout her pregnancy.
In the later stages of pregnancy it may become uncomfortable to sit behind the steering wheel of a car or wear a seat belt and so it may be preferable to avoid driving at this time.
Driving when on medications
If you are prescribed any medication by a medical practitioner they should advise you at the time whether it is likely to affect your ability to drive. Some medications can make you feel drowsy and this can clearly be dangerous if you are in control of any type of vehicle.
This may mean that you will have to use public transport or get lifts from friends or colleagues for a while which may of course be inconvenient, but it is really not worth the risk of a road accident. Speak to your GP if you (or others) notice any effects on your driving ability whilst on any medication.
Always take care when buying 'self prescribed' over the counter medicines too. Your pharmacist should be able to advise you to some extent, but as with all medicines they can sometimes affect different people in different ways and so it may be necessary to try a different product if something affects you adversely. If you have any queries your GP should be able to advise you which product may be more suitable for you.
Medical conditions and Illnesses
Certain medical conditions can affect your ability to drive safely. For example diabetes can cause dizziness if the persons blood sugar level drops suddenly. Even a severe bout of flu can affect your ability to concentrate and make quick decisions.
With any medical condition it is always wise to consult your GP regarding your particular situation and they should be able to advise you as to whether it is safe for you to continue driving. It may just be the case that you have to stop driving while you are being treated, and you can return to driving once the condition is gone.
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