Older drivers: changing your car

Cars parked next to a test track

Car features useful for older drivers

If your car is big or older, you might find it easier to trade it for a newer, smaller one. Newer cars have features which are designed to make them easier, more comfortable, and safer to drive, such as:

  • variable power steering
  • brake assist and traction control
  • automatic or semi-automatic gear boxes
  • cruise control
  • hill start assist
  • automatic headlights and wipers
  • parking sensors and cameras
  • speed limit information
  • lane departure warning
  • larger digital speedometers

If you're changing your car, consider getting some driving lessons to make yourself fully aware of the vehicle, for example, if changing from a manual to an automatic.

Accessories for easier driving

  • Satnavs help you navigate unfamiliar routes, warn you which lane is required and can save you a lot of worry.
  • Additional ‘blind spot’ mirrors can be attached to the door mirrors or panoramic rear view mirrors can be used. These give a greater range of vision beside and close behind your car. Get these from motor accessory shops or online.
  • Additional mirrors can be helpful for changing lanes and pulling out of slip roads. If you fit them, do practice using them on quiet roads until you are comfortable with them.
  • You can mark different speeds (30, 40, 60) on the speedometer with coloured stickers to make them easier to see.
  • If you're experiencing difficulties steering, perhaps following a stroke, a steering ball or a spinner lets you steer with one hand, and can make it easier to hold the wheel. Steering balls and spinners are available from motor accessory shops.
  • Adjustable seating with lumbar support and adjustable steering wheel position help keep you comfortable and in control. Make sure you can sit comfortably and push the pedals all the way down without pain. You need to be able to see clearly over the steering wheel.
  • Specialist and bespoke adaptations are available for people who have difficulty with operating the vehicle's controls or getting in and out of the car.

If you change your way of driving in a big way, check with a mobility centre if there are other adaptations that may help.

It's a wise idea to get a driving assessment to fully assess your needs and any suitable adaptations.

Drive less

If you're finding it difficult or tiring to drive, or you are concerned about safety, you may wish to have a driving appraisal or reduce the amount of driving you do.

People who drive fewer than 3,000 miles a year are more likely to be involved in collisions.

If you're driving a very low mileage a year, it may be less expensive to use taxis than to run your own car.

Find the right car for you

We've got more advice and information to help you with:

See the RiDC car search to shortlist cars that meet your needs.

Retiring from driving - think about it 

For many people who find themselves having to stop driving unexpectedly, it can come as a shock. For some it can be difficult to adjust.

You may not want to, but it is worth thinking in advance.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How could you manage if you had to stop driving, perhaps temporarily?
  • Do you know what public and community transport is available locally?
  • Have you got bus services in your area? Try using them to learn how they work and which routes you can use without too much trouble.
  • Are you thinking about moving house? Find out what the transport links are like.
  • Could you manage without a car if you had to?

If it's your partner who usually drives, make sure you practise your own driving, in case they have to stop.

More information

Find your nearest mobility centre for advice and assessment

Older Drivers Forum

Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)

Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVANI)

GEM Motoring Assist - Still Safe to Drive

Disabled Motoring UK - supporting Blue Badge holders