We learn to drive at a young age, taking lessons, and spending hours practicing for our driving theory test, before eventually going for a practical test.
If it all goes well, we end up with a driving licence and are free to drive whenever, and wherever we want.
The problem is that no matter how good a driver you are, there are some instances where health problems can affect your skills on the road.
Cataracts are a common eye condition whereby your vision starts to appear cloudy, blurry or muted in colour. Cataracts tend to affect night driving at first, and you may start to see halos around oncoming headlight glare. It’s an easy condition to fix, but once your cataracts start to affect your driving, you should stay off the road.
Back pain is not necessarily caused by driving, but driving can certainly exacerbate the problem. Sitting immobile for a long period of time will make back pain a lot worse. If you suffer from back pain, try to avoid driving too far, but if you can’t avoid a long journey, make sure you take plenty of rest breaks so your back doesn’t stiffen up.
Medication can affect our ability to drive safely. Some medications cause drowsiness, delayed reactions, and other symptoms. If you need to take prescribed medication for any condition, always check whether the guidelines recommend that you don’t drive. If the answer is ‘yes’, ask someone else to drive you if you need to go anywhere in the car.
Alcohol and Drug Dependency
Drinking alcohol and taking drugs is a personal decision, but neither activity is conducive to safe driving. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as it will affect your reaction times and in most cases, lead to a serious accident.
Anxiety is a common psychological condition, which affects millions of people at one time or another. Anxiety shouldn’t prevent you from driving, but it can affect how you behave on the road. Anxious drivers tend to drive more slowly and are hesitant at junctions and road intersections, and may make unexpected lane changes. This can be dangerous because it causes other road users to be impatient and react in a dangerous manner. It’s also dangerous because an anxious driver isn’t thinking clearly when they make crucial split-second decisions on the road. If you are finding yourself struggling with confidence on the road, refreshing your theory with some of the mock exams on Top Tests can help you.
Reaching your 70s and beyond does not preclude you from driving, but it should make you take a step back and consider whether you should still be driving. If you suffer from stiff joints, arthritis, cataracts, poor vision, reduced cognitive skills and any other symptoms of old age, it is wise to have a physical health check before you get behind the wheel.
There are numerous physical problems that can affect your skills as a driver, so if you are at all concerned about your fitness to drive, speak to your doctor for advice.