AA Car Care: Senior drivers and licence renewal
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
From time to time, we receive calls at the AA from senior drivers who have been unable to renew their licence because a medical professional hasn’t issued them with a medical certificate. In some circumstances, this can lead to a feeling of isolation – particularly for those who live in rural areas where public transport is less accessible.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Crash Analysis System shows that despite all those years of driving experience, those aged 60-plus are more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in injury or fatalities than those aged under 25. What’s more, the percentage of car crashes involving injury within this age segment is growing.
Upon reaching the ages of 75 and 80, and every second birthday after that, drivers must obtain a Medical Certificate for Driver Licence from a doctor. Your medical professional will check your overall health and eyesight, to decide whether or not you need to resit and pass an on-road safety test.
There are five potential outcomes of the medical examination, where you’re deemed:
- Medically fit to drive
- Medically fit to drive with conditions (corrective lenses, time-of-day or distance restrictions)
- Medically fit to drive subject to passing an on-road safety test
- In need of specialist referral (optometrist or occupational therapist driving assessor)
- Not medically fit to drive
In the event of being declared not medically fit to drive, the doctor must advise the NZTA and your licence will expire on your birthday.
We’re living longer, we’re driving longer
Life expectancy is increasing thanks to improvements in medical treatment and care, and we are all more likely to reach an age when driving could present more of a hazard to ourselves and other road users. Plus, with the baby boomer generation either already in retirement or now coming of retirement age, Kiwis aged 65 and over will make up about 25 per cent of the population by the late-2030s. At the AA, we currently have more than 340,000 members who are aged 65 or older.
Preparing to pass
The AA Driving School offers a free in-car coaching session to members over 74, to help them retain their mobility, freedom and independence. It’s available once every two years. This programme aims to help senior drivers prepare for a potential test resit, and familiarise themselves with the current road safety landscape and regulations - plus any changes that they should be aware of. An AA Driving Instructor will meet the driver at their preferred location and the session will take place in their own car.
The hour-long session includes a 30-minute drive along a route of the driver’s choice. They can choose to focus on the motorway or night driving, and a 15 minute top-and-tail review of the vehicle set up. AA members can book this session online at AA Senior Driver or by calling 0800 223 748.
A little bit of preparation
When we take those calls from drivers who have been left high and dry without a licence, they’re often more frustrated by the nature of losing it than the fact that they’re no longer able to drive. Nobody wants to hear that their driving may not be up to standard, but the vast majority understand why it’s important to resit a test as they get older.
The benefits of taking additional paid lessons with a professional instructor cannot be underestimated. The Free Senior Driver session for AA members 74-plus is a great “check-in” but any number of paid sessions afterwards may be beneficial to focus on anything in particular that the driver wishes to.
An Instructor will tailor a lesson/session to suit whatever the driver needs/wants – and this applies just as much to experienced senior drivers as it does to younger drivers/learners.