Tips about driving after a dementia diagnosis – and stopping

Driving advice from Dementia together magazine readers, Dementia Voice partners and Dementia Support Forum members.

Safe driving uses many complex skills that we often don’t have to think about.

Even if driving feels like second nature to you, dementia will eventually affect these skills and make driving unsafe. 

After diagnosis 

Being diagnosed with dementia doesn’t automatically mean you have to stop driving.

Many people can continue to drive with regular checks. 

However, you must tell your licensing agency (DVLA or DVA) and car insurer straightaway.

Driving safely 

If the DVLA or DVA says you can still drive, then keep things simple. 

Choose times and routes that avoid stress or tricky conditions. Drive without distractions, such as the radio. 

Getting ready 

It can help to plan ahead for when you do need to stop driving. Talk to others about how this will feel and what might help.

Perhaps try out different travel arrangements for when the time comes. 

Deciding to stop for yourself is much easier to deal with than being told you can no longer drive. 

Stopping driving

When you do stop, try to still get out and about using other transport. 

It can be hard to adapt if driving’s been an important part of your life and independence.

Yet some people also enjoy more exercise, less stress and money saved. 

Your tips to help with driving

Stephen Copley says,

‘I try not to drive on bad days. Having someone with you also helps. Keep to speed limits, no matter if the wally behind can’t drive safe. The sat-nav nowadays shows you what’s ahead and may divert you away from traffic accidents and closures.’

Geoff says,

‘Stay driving local with someone else. Then there’s the speed some people drive at behind you. My way of coping with that is to tap the brakes. Filling out the form for DVLA can be a bit of a pain if you’re not used doing it, or get someone else who is.’

Roy C says,

‘I handed back my licence to DVLA. Now, when I have the opportunity to go in a car, I always choose a rear seat and have not regretted my decision for a single minute. We all have a duty to drive in a manner whereby we will make the roads as safe a place as possible.’

Sue in London says,

‘I was happy to stop because I didn’t feel I was driving as well as I used to. I had already had to take a driving test to be allowed to continue a year previously but felt I had enough. And if you don’t run a car, you can afford the odd cab.’

Sheila from the Wirral says,

‘Before my husband was diagnosed, we noticed he kept forgetting to change gear and also either drove too slow or too fast. Eventually, when he couldn’t remember which way to drive home, he realised he wasn’t happy driving, so told me to drive in future, which was a huge relief.’

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Dementia together magazine

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now