Choosing a safe car
You become more frail as you age. Even though older drivers have fewer crashes than other age groups, they’re more likely to sustain serious or life-threatening injuries if there is a crash.
There are many safety features available in cars to help keep you safer and driving longer.
If you’re buying a car, read RACV's Make the right choice - Vehicle safety advice for older drivers to help with your decision. This guide includes a checklist of important features you should look for when buying a car. For a printed copy, contact RACV.
Dementia and driving
In Victoria, there are around 104,000 people living with dementia. Dementia can impact driving ability, and a diagnosis must be reported to VicRoads. However, a person with dementia doesn’t automatically have to stop driving.
If you’re worried about yourself, a friend or family member, it’s important to talk to your health professional for advice.
Watch our video on dementia, driving and mobility
How to recognise dementia in a driver
Some indicators of someone experiencing dementia include:
- Becoming disorientated or lost whilst driving in familiar areas
- Forgetting the purpose of trips
- Losing the car in familiar car parks
- Having difficulty making quick decisions at intersections or busy roads
- Driving through Stop/Give Way signs or traffic lights without giving way
- Not seeing vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists sharing the road
- Difficulty parking or driving into carports or garages
- Slower reaction times
- Difficulties using the brake, accelerator or steering wheel
- Unexplained dents and scratches on the car.
Support and brochures
RACV has developed a guide to dementia, driving and mobility. This guide is for professionals, carers, families, friends and for people with dementia. It summarises key issues surrounding driving and dementia including mobility options for people who have stopped driving.
For a printed copy of this guide, please contact RACV.
Other resources and contacts:
- Dementia and Driving Kit - Changed Conditions Ahead
- Alzheimer's Australia (Vic) - 1800 100 500
Drivers and passengers with a disability
Drivers and passengers with disability can often continue to travel legally and safely with some vehicle modifications. These might be minor such as back support cushions or major modifications, such as a ramp or hoist for people in a wheelchair.
But modifying a vehicle might not be the best option. Consider costs, registration and licensing requirements first. RACV’s Keeping Mobile brochure has more information about modifying your vehicle for drivers and passengers with a disability.
Organisations and support
Independent Living Centre (ILC) - The ILC provides a free internet database, telephone advisory line, and also runs special display days. Visit the ILC website for more information.
Disabled Motorists Association (DMA) - The DMA is a not-for-profit organisation run by and for motorists with disabilities. They can advise on a range of issues and many of their members are drivers with disabilities who have practical firsthand experience.
Transport Accident Commission (TAC) - The TAC can provide information for people who are injured in traffic accidents. Information includes eligibility for compensation, application forms, and vehicle modifications.
VicRoads - VicRoads are responsible for ensuring that all drivers can drive safely. VicRoads provide advice and information about driving with long-term or permanent medical conditions or disabilities and occupational therapy driver assessment. The Vehicle Assessment Signatory Scheme (VASS) is also a part of VicRoads, which aims to ensure all modified vehicles meet construction and safety standards.
OT Australia (Vic) - OT Australia (Vic) can provide information on how to find an Occupational Therapist generalist or driver assessor.
If you want to reduce your dependency on your car or stop driving all together, there are many options to help you stay connected to your friends, family, community or the services you need.
RACV’s Transport Options for Seniors guide provides advice about how to plan your trip, use myki and other things you’ll need to consider when you’re travelling without a car:
- Riding a bicycle
- Motorised mobility devices
- Travel assistance
- Years Ahead
- Useful contacts
For a copy of this guide, please contact RACV.
Medical conditions and driving
VicRoads has comprehensive information on medical conditions, such as diabetes and vision impairments, and their effect on driving. There is also advice on what, if anything, you need to do about it.
Driving and pharmacy medications
Many drivers are unaware that pharmacy medications could impair their driving, particularly if mixed with alcohol. For example, medications can affect your reaction times and cause fatigue.
If you’re worried that your medication is affecting your driving, you should continue with the medication, avoid driving, and see your doctor.
TAC has developed more detailed information about the types and effects of medications.
RACV Senior Driver Program
RACV’s Drive School has a Senior Driver Program in which our instructors can provide professional advice about your driving and practical solutions to help maintain your mobility for as long as possible.
The RACV Senior Driver Program is suitable for senior drivers who:
- Would like an assessment of their own driving ability
- Have family members who are concerned about their safety
- Are undergoing a VicRoads licence assessment
- Have lost confidence in their driving ability and feel a refresher course may help.
For more information or to book call the RACV Drive School on 1300 788 229.