The Road Ahead
Your licence from age 70
Depending on your age and the type of vehicle you use, you may need a medical assessment and an older driver or rider assessment to renew your licence.
|Car or Rider unrestricted licence
|Not required, unless a doctor recommends it.
|Heavy vehicle licence (classes LR, MR, HR or HC)
|Not required, unless a doctor recommends it.
|Multi-combination (MC) licence
|All licence classes
|Multi-combination (MC) licence
|Car or rider unrestricted licence
Heavy vehicle licence (classes LR, MR, HR or HC)
Multi-combination (MC) licence
|Car or Rider unrestricted licence
Heavy vehicle licence (classes LR, MR, HR or HC)
Multi-combination (MC) licence
Modified driver licence
Drivers aged 85 years and over can choose to change from an unrestricted licence to a modified licence. For this type of licence, you'll need a medical assessment every year but not an on-road older driver/rider assessment.
A modified licence allows you to drive certain distances within your local area to access services such as shopping, community activities and medical appointments. If you live in regional NSW, the area you're permitted to drive in will accommodate the distances between the essential services you need to access.
Note that a modified licence isn't the same as a licence with conditions. If your doctor recommends adding conditions to your licence, you must follow the advice.
If you'd like a modified licence, you can call Service NSW on 13 22 13, visit a Service NSW service centre or download a Request for a Modified Licence form from Service NSW.
Medical conditions that affect driving
All drivers, regardless of their age, must inform us if they have any medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive safely.
Reporting your condition doesn't mean you have to give up your licence. We will request you visit your doctor to assess your fitness to drive. During the appointment, talk to your doctor about your driving needs. In some cases, you may need to pass an older driver or rider assessment, or conditions may be placed on your licence.
Visit the NSW Government website or call 13 22 13 to find out more.
Dementia and driving
Dementia is a condition that gradually disrupts a person’s memory, speech, concentration, judgement and ability to plan. Although dementia can affect anyone, it is more common in people aged over 65 years.
How dementia affects driving
Driving is a complex task that requires attention, memory, judgement and planning. We use all of these skills to judge distances, use roundabouts and intersections, and stay within a lane. As dementia advances, these skills decline to the point where driving becomes unsafe.
What to do after a diagnosis
If you’re diagnosed with dementia, you’re legally required to notify us. Reporting your condition doesn’t mean your licence will be immediately affected. We may request your medical practitioner complete a medical assessment to check your ability to drive safely.
Find out more on the NSW Government website or call 13 22 13.
People without a diagnosis
Not everyone with dementia will have a formal diagnosis. In the early stages, the condition can be difficult to notice as the changes are gradual. However, people with advancing dementia often show changes in their driving ability.
If you, a family member or friend notice any changes to your driving ability, it’s important to see a medical practitioner. They can help you assess your health and determine if the changes are from dementia or other medical conditions.
Signs to look for
- Becoming disoriented or lost while driving in familiar areas
- Forgetting the purpose of the trip
- Losing the car in a familiar car park
- Having difficulty making quick decisions at intersections or busy roads
- Driving through stop or give way signs, or red traffic lights
- Not seeing other vehicles, pedestrians or bicycle riders
- Having difficulty driving into a carport or garage
- Having slower reaction times
- Having difficulty using the brake, accelerator or steering wheel
- Confusing the brake and accelerator pedals
Help for people with dementia
Dementia Australia has detailed information for families and carers, including support services, counselling and education programs.
Early diagnosis of dementia can make it easier for you, your family or carers to plan ahead for lifestyle changes, including your mobility and transport needs.
You may like to consider using:
- transport services such as community transport, courtesy buses, taxis and public transport
- home-delivery services from your local supermarket or pharmacist
- internet banking to reduce your reliance on vehicles
- relocating to be close to transport, services, family or other support networks.
Whether you drive, ride, walk or use a mobility scooter, you need to be aware of changes to your health that could affect your safety when you travel.
If you’ve noticed changes in your health, visit your medical practitioner. They can give advice on how to manage any conditions that may affect your safety on the road.
Common medical conditions that are part of ageing may result in the need for new medications, loss of vision and hearing, decreased perception and memory, or reduced strength, flexibility and movement.
Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can affect your perception of hazards, reduce reaction times, and impair decision making. Taking two or more medications together or combining them with alcohol can seriously affect your driving abilities.
If you take prescription or over-the-counter drugs, talk to your pharmacist or doctor for advice on any possible effects on your driving. Always check the labels on medications if you're taking them before driving.
Hearing and vision
Being able to hear clearly enables you to respond to others on the road and warning signals such as horns, emergency vehicle sirens and reversing signals of other vehicles.
Good vision is essential for driving, especially at night, in strong sun or in low-light conditions.
Common eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration can make it difficult to see vehicles, pedestrians, traffic signs and road hazards. Some eye conditions can even reduce your side vision, making it difficult to see vehicles or people that aren't directly in front of you.
Problem-solving, memory and decision-making
Problem-solving and memory abilities help you process information, make decisions and respond appropriately to different situations.
When driving, trouble with these abilities can negatively affect how well you monitor the road environment, respond to unexpected situations and make safe decisions.
Strength, flexibility and movement
You need muscular strength, flexibility and movement to turn the steering wheel, look behind you when reversing and move in your seat to use rear-view mirrors.
Reduced strength, flexibility and movement are also signs of increased frailty, which increases your risk of injury in a crash.
Detecting changes in your driving
Here are some signs that show your ability to drive safely might be changing.
- Constantly feeling tired when driving
- Finding it difficult to read signs, see in poor light or cope with glare
- Experiencing a few ‘close calls’, near-misses or being involved in a crash
- Friends or family expressing their concerns about your driving
- Nervousness and lacking confidence when behind the wheel
- Reactions to medications and feeling less alert or coordinated
- Finding it difficult to turn your head and see over your shoulder
- Finding it hard to handle difficult driving situations, including:
- being surprised by passing cars
- braking harder than normal for hazards
- going through red lights or stop signs
- turning too fast or too slowly
- backing into or over objects
- running over the kerb
- keeping the car centred in a lane
- judging when to turn at intersections.
Safer driving habits
If you notice that the way you drive has changed, remember to keep up the following safer driving habits to protect yourself and others on the road.
Before you leave
Every time you get in a car, make sure you’re ready to drive. The simplest mistakes, such as confusing the brake and accelerator pedals, can lead to serious crashes.
Before driving, check your:
- park brake
- seat position
- pedal position
- mirrors, blind spots, sensors and cameras for other road users and hazards.
On the road
- Drive to the conditions
Slow down in bad conditions like rain or fog. This gives you more time to respond to unexpected events. If the conditions are bad, it’s best to not drive at all. If you’re already driving, pull over in a safe place off the road, turn on the hazard lights and wait for the conditions to improve.
- Increase your response time
Allow a 3-second gap when travelling behind another vehicle. If you allow a slightly longer gap, you'll have more time to respond to other drivers and unexpected situations.
- Look for other road users
Before you begin driving, check for pedestrians and bicycle riders around your vehicle by checking your mirrors, blind spots, sensors and reversing cameras.
- Drive during the middle of the day
It can be harder to see in the late afternoon sun and at night. If you drive during the middle of the day, you can see more clearly and there are fewer cars on the road.
- Drive short distances
Plan ahead so you only drive short distances. Drive to the shopping centres closest to you at less busy times of the day.
- Share the driving
If you’re planning an outing or long journey with family or friends, share the driving.
- Drive on familiar roads
Before you set out, plan your journey so you drive on familiar roads. Try to avoid difficult situations like complex intersections, heavy traffic and high-speed roads.
- Be well rested
Make sure you have a good night’s sleep and feel alert before driving. If you feel tired, it’s best to not drive.
- Avoid distractions
Turn off mobile phones before you begin driving and avoid distractions so you can focus on driving.
- Avoid driving if you're unwell
When you’re not feeling well, your risk of being in a crash increases. Wait until you feel better to drive or see a doctor if you continue to feel unwell.
Driving the safest car possible offers better protection. Advanced vehicle technologies can greatly affect your ability to survive a crash. Vehicles with safety features that help prevent crashes and provide the best protection in a crash will help keep you and your passengers safe.
If you’re buying a new car, check vehicle safety ratings on the Australasian New Car Assessment Program website. Five stars are awarded to the safest vehicles.
To help you choose the safest used vehicles, visit the How Safe Is Your Car website. Five stars are awarded to the safest vehicles.
Find out more
Retiring from driving
Plan ahead to stay independent
Retiring from driving doesn’t mean that you'll lose your mobility and independence. Planning ahead can help you keep your independence and ease the transition:
- Consider the advantages of moving to an area with a variety of transport options, shops, medical and community services, and social activities close by.
- Use public transport and taxis. You could save money on your car’s running and maintenance costs.
- Get familiar early on with using public transport in case you do need to retire from driving at some point. You can also make savings on longer journeys you’d normally take in the car.
- If you hold a NSW Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card or a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Health Card, check if you're eligible for discounted public transport throughout NSW.
Check out Other transport options below for more details.
If you decide you don't need your licence, you can hand it in at any time. If you return your licence to a Service NSW service centre, you'll be offered a free NSW Photo Card for identification. If you don’t need the NSW Photo Card, you can post your licence to any service centre with a short letter about your decision to stop driving.
Driving and staying independent: A decision aid for older drivers (PDF, 33.74 MB) provides guidance and support to help you make informed decisions about whether to:
- continue safe driving
- modify driving routines
- retire from driving.
It also has information that can help you to consider:
- how you can keep driving safely for longer
- how you can maintain your lifestyle as you begin to drive less or retire from driving
- alternative transportation options that are available
- where you can seek support as you make these decisions.
Walking safely and crossing the road
Walking is something we do all our lives, yet we often don’t think about taking extra care as we get older.
Here are some walking tips
Follow these tips to stay safe when walking and crossing the road.
- Before you step off the kerb, make eye contact with an approaching driver so they’re aware of you
- Always wait for vehicles to stop completely before you begin crossing the road
- Use safe places to cross the road such as pedestrian crossings or traffic lights with pedestrian signals
- Always walk on the footpath when available
- When crossing the road, take the shortest, most direct route to get to the other side
- Consider the time it will take you to cross a road or driveway. Wait for oncoming vehicles to pass or reverse from the driveway before crossing
- Wear bright colours for to increase your visibility, especially at dawn or dusk
- At intersections, always check for turning vehicles before you leave the kerb and while you're crossing the road
- Watch out for bicycle riders using roads, footpaths or pathways in parks before you step off the kerb
- When you’re on a shared path, keep to the left side of the pathway to allow room for bicycle riders to pass
- If you use a walking stick/frame or ride a mobility scooter, make sure you know how to use it properly before setting out.
If you haven’t ridden for a while or are riding less often, you may be more likely to crash. Use our tips to stay safe.
Check your gear
Always wear full protective gear, including gloves, jacket, boots and the safest helmet you can afford.
- Check the safety rating of your helmet at MotoCAP.
Motorcyclists can be difficult to see in traffic, so you need to plan ahead to respond safely to unexpected situations.
- Scan for potential hazards to give you more time to react to dangers.
- Create a buffer between you and any potential hazard to give you more space to respond safely.
Plan recreational rides so that you're familiar with roads and riding conditions. Long winding roads and sharp corners need extra care. To improve your vision and safety, make sure you slow down and approach each corner from the widest point. Keep to the centre of the lane, away from any oncoming traffic.
Pull over and take a break if you experience:
- running wide on a corner
- rough gear changes
- dry mouth
- missing a road sign
- stiff joints.
For riding, safety and first aid tips, plus a trip planner of great NSW rides, visit Ride To Live.
Riding a bike is a great way to keep healthy and active. Follow our tips to improve your safety when you ride.
Safety when you ride
- Plan your route
Choose your route carefully. If you are less confident, ride on quieter streets, bike paths or shared paths.
- Use hand signals
Give hand signals when changing lanes or turning left or right.
- Make yourself visible
Make yourself easier to see by wearing bright, light or reflective clothing.
- Always wear your helmet
Always wear an approved bike helmet and make sure it’s properly fitted and fastened.
- Follow the road rules
Make sure you follow the road rules, especially at traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs.
Our Go Together campaign helps bicycle riders understand the laws that allow everyone to respect each other's space and Go Together safely on our roads.
- Check that your gear works
Make sure you have working brakes, front and rear lights, and a bell.
- Avoid riding if you feel unwell
If you're feeling unwell or tired, stop, take a break or don’t ride.
Pedestrian road rules apply
Mobility scooters are used by less mobile people to help them get to everyday places, such as the local shops.
When using your mobility scooter you must follow the same road rules that apply to pedestrians. Ride on the footpath, preferably at walking speed, which is 2–3km/h. You should also cross the road at safe places, such as traffic lights with pedestrian signals and at pedestrian crossings.
Find out more about the safe us of mobility scooters.
Other transport options
Whether you’ve handed in your licence or are thinking about giving up driving, there are other ways to stay mobile and independent.
If you have a NSW Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Health Card, you can apply for a Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card.
To learn more about public transport timetables, fares and accessibility, visit Transport Info or call 131 500.
Using public transport safely
- Stand back from the kerb when waiting for a bus.
- Watch your step when you get on and off the bus.
- Keep hold of a handrail when you get on the bus to avoid falls as the bus starts moving.
- Buckle up if the bus has seatbelts.
- Sit at the front of the bus. Less mobile passengers should use the designated seats, which are often upholstered in red or marked with a priority seating sign.
- Press the button well before your stop and wait until the bus has completely stopped before getting up from your seat.
- Always get off the bus via the front door.
- Use buses that are wheelchair accessible, with lower floors and priority seating to make travelling easier. These buses are marked on timetables with an ‘a’ or wheelchair accessibility sign.
For more about safe travel on buses, visit Transport Info.
- Wait behind the yellow line on the platform and don’t cross it until the train stops.
- Use the handrails on either side of the train doors to get on and off.
- Watch the gap between the platform and train.
- Don't try to board the train once the departure whistle has blown, when the door closing alarm starts or when you hear the doors closing announcement.
- Hold on to a handrail when moving through the train or when travelling standing up.
- Ask the station staff if you need help getting on or off a train. If you have a disability, you can also use the Emergency Help Points on platforms and newer trains to contact train staff.
Transport Info has more about safe travel on trains.
People with limited mobility may be eligible for discounted taxi fare vouchers. You can save on travel costs by up to 50%. Our Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme provides these vouchers.
Visit Transport Info or call 1800 623 724 for more details.
Community transport services are available throughout NSW. They provide access to recreation, shopping, medical and government services.
To see services available in your area, visit Transport for NSW or call 131 500.
Local bus services
In many regional areas, there are local clubs and councils that offer free or low-cost local bus services. To find out more, call your local club/council or check their website.
Download our publications in other languages
You can also pick up a copy from a Service NSW service centre.
Driving and staying independent: A decision aid for older drivers
- Driving and staying independent: A decision aid for older drivers will help you to consider your transport options, plan for the future and make informed decisions about continuing to drive safely.
- A guide to older driver licensing explains the NSW licensing system, options and assessments for older drivers and riders.
Dementia and driving: A decision aid
- Dementia and driving: A decision aid can help you decide when to stop driving after being diagnosed with dementia.
Top 10 misunderstood road rules in NSW
- Watch our video animations of the most misunderstood road rules.
Contacts and services
Moving from full-time driving may make you fearful of losing your mobility and independence, but there are many services to help you adjust to lifestyle changes.
If you’re concerned that your health is affecting your driving, visit a medical practitioner. They can help to manage any medical conditions you may have and minimise any effects on your driving abilities.
Your doctor can also refer you to other healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapists and optometrists, who can help keep you fit to drive.
Friends and family can be a source of support, not only for your transport needs, but also to warn you of changes to your driving that you may not have noticed. If they express concerns about your driving, it’s important to keep an open mind to get the best solution for your circumstances.
This list includes organisations that can help you with specific needs or give you other transport options.
Support and resources for people with dementia, their families and carers.
- P: 1800 100 500
- W: Dementia Australia
Information, support and counselling for carers in NSW.
- P: 1800 242 636
- W: Carers NSW
Information on community transport services and programs across NSW.
Dementia and Driving: A Decision Aid
A 24-hour suicide prevention hotline and crisis support services.
- P: 13 11 14
- W: Lifeline
My Aged Care
General information and referral service for seniors, their families and carers.
- P: 1800 200 422
- W: My Aged Care
NSW Seniors Card
Details about NSW Government transport concession, and travel and business discounts.
- P: 13 77 88
- W: Seniors Card
Seniors Information Service
A range of resources to support seniors of all ages.
- P: 13 77 88
- W: Family and Community Services Office for Ageing
Pay for your licence or vehicle registration and book a licence test.
- P: 13 77 88
- W: Service NSW
Information on the Gold Opal card for seniors and pensioners.
- W: Opal
Information about the NSW driver licensing system.
- P: 13 22 13
- W: NSW Government
Fare, timetable and accessibility information for travelling on trains, buses, ferries and light rail.
- P: 131 500
- W: Transport Info