Senior woman taking driving assessment for the elderly after lessons.
Table of Contents

    According to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), drivers aged 75 or over have a higher risk of dying in a car accident or crash than those in any other age group.

    There are specific physical and mental changes that can affect some elderly drivers’ ability to drive. These changes are a natural effect of ageing and affect a person’s visual, motor, and cognitive abilities. Therefore, such changes can have a significant impact on how well they perform and their level of driving skills while on the road.

    Many elderly or senior drivers still have adequate driving skills and perform exceptionally well on the road, and the assessment is just a way to prove this and continue enjoying the freedom of driving as you please. However, whether you’re an exceptional driver or could use some driving expertise to get you back up to speed, we recommend booking driving lessons with experienced and friendly driving instructors.

    Book Now »

    In some situations, the physiological changes that come with ageing can lead to:

    • Decreased visual acuity
    • Oversensitivity to glare that can impair night driving
    • Reduction in flexibility, muscle strength and balance
    • Slower reaction times
    • Slower processing speed
    • Slower visual processing and perceptual skills
    • Divided attention
    • Reduced executive function

    Another concern among elderly drivers is that those who use prescription drugs due to existing medical conditions may suffer from bouts of sleepiness or drowsiness. It’s always best to have a chat with your GP about how such prescriptions or medicine can affect your driving skills.

    But while the elderly may have an increased risk of figuring in or causing a road accident, many older people are perfectly fit to drive. So, how does one know for certain whether an elderly person can keep on driving or has to stop?

    The key: senior driver assessments.

    The elderly and driving

    Most older adults find driving their own automobile to be the most convenient mode of transportation. However, ageing can come with physical deterioration which, in turn, can contribute to driving impairment among the elderly, impairing their fitness to drive.

    Safe driving entails the complex integration of visual, motor, and cognitive processes. You need to be able to multitask while on the road. Not only do you need to keep an eye out for traffic signals, road signs, pedestrians, crossing wildlife, potholes, etc., but you should also have the presence of mind to change lanes, merge into traffic, signal other drivers, and emergency brake when required.

    The need to be alert for all such factors and eventualities can be taxing on older drivers who may already suffer from mild to moderate visual, motor, and cognitive deficits. To avoid risking their lives and that of others, most older drivers regulate their own behaviour to reduce stress and compensate for their physiological deficits by:

    • Opting to drive under ideal conditions, i.e., good weather and non-rush hours
    • Avoiding twilight or night-time driving
    • Limiting trips to short-distance drives
    • Driving more slowly
    • Stopping and parking when they feel drowsy

    While this only occurs in particular cases, it’s important to reflect on your driving capabilities and actively look to improve and become more confident on Perth roads where possible.

    Functional assessments for seniors and elderly drivers

    Practical driving assessments for the elderly or senior drivers involve the evaluation of each person’s visual, motor, and cognitive abilities – all areas that need to function adequately for safe driving.

    These assessments can be conducted by general healthcare professionals, although consultation with specialists, such as neuropsychologists, ophthalmologists, physical therapists, etc., may be necessary in some cases.

    Elderly drivers may also undergo written and computerised aptitude tests that evaluate attentiveness and judgement and are used as indicators of driving fitness. Written tests are mostly situational, while computerised tests are designed to assess a driver’s reaction and decision-making speed and consistency.

    The advent of VR technology has also paved the way for the use of virtual driving simulation exercises for improving the mobility of senior drivers. These include clinical exercises and simple driving instruction for those who have yet to earn their driving licence, as well as more advanced driving instruction for driving neophytes and seasoned senior drivers.

    Where certain deficits are identified, driving-related interventions may need to be introduced. These interventions include driving rehabilitation, assisted driving, driving restriction or cessation (or a combination of this), and using assistive devices.

    Driving licence renewal for seniors in WA

    In Western Australia, the moment a person turns 80, they are issued a Medical Assessment Certificate – Senior driver’s licence renewal declaration or Form M108A. This form is sent via post around 12 weeks prior to the expiration of the person’s driver’s licence.

    Seniors who wish to renew their licence to drive are required to undergo medical assessments and, with the assistance of their healthcare provider, complete and submit all forms required with the application for renewal.

    The Department of Transportation then reviews the recommendations of the concerned medical professional and considers the senior driver’s driving history and medical information. If the applicant satisfies all the prerequisites of safe driving, they are issued a new licence card or renewal notice.

    However, those who do not meet the standards for safe driving may be required by the Department of Transportation to provide more information; else, no driver’s licence or renewal will be given.

    Senior drivers aged 85+ who wish to renew their driver’s licence are also subject to the same process, except that they also need to book and undertake a practical driving assessment (PDA).

    The importance of driving instruction

    If your elderly parents are due to renew their driver’s licence in Western Australia by completing and passing a practical driving assessment – whether they belong to the 80-84 or 85+ age group. This is primarily to build self-confidence and put skills to the test with the assistance of advanced, professional driving instruction.

    With the help of driving-related interventions, such as driving rehabilitation, your elderly parents can re-master and practise their driving skills in a safe and controlled environment.

    And when this is combined with expert-led, hands-on driving in real traffic situations, older drivers will feel more ready and able to tackle whatever senior driving assessment they’ll need to undergo.

    If you’re looking for professional driving instruction to improve your driving skills, please contact Eclipse Driving School. We’ll help them pass their assessment with flying colours.

    Ready to Book? Click below to get started

    Read On:

    Man experiencing road rage in car.

    What to Do When You Experience Road Rage

    We’re committed to helping our students identify and overcome road rage while being able to spot it in others. Learn what to do if you’re a victim of road rage »

    Roundabout in Geraldton, Western Australia.

    Road Rules: Indicating on a Roundabout

    If you’re just learning to drive and want to know how to navigate and indicate at a roundabout in Western Australia, here are a few things you should know »

    Car speedometer showing car driving to the speed limit in a school zone.

    Speed Limits WA: Definitive Guide for New Drivers

    Adhering to speed limits ensures the safety of the driver, other motorists, pedestrians, animals and structures. Follow this guide to speed limits in WA »

    Book your Perth driving lesson today

    Fill out our booking form and we will be in touch.