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Suddenly worried about driving - did this happen to you?

(81 Posts)
mrsnonsmoker Sun 27-Feb-22 00:28:03

I've always been a bit sceptical about women drivers who say they are nervous and up until recently I'd had no qualms, could drive day or night, usually would only like to drive for 2/3 hours at the most but no issues. Over the past couple of years I've found it more difficult to drive at night, particularly in bad weather. Now its got to the point I'm struggling even with an hour in good daylight, just feel like I'm not confident.

I hate the thought of losing my independence like this, I feel young and my friends who are a bit younger are looking at me like I'm mad - I suppose 5 years ago I would have done exactly the same.

Is losing confidence in driving as you get older the norm? Inevitable?

mokryna Sun 27-Feb-22 00:42:53

We haven’t been driving very much these last couple of years. Maybe you are just lacking confidence, a few hours with a driving instructor, could be the answer.

poshpaws Sun 27-Feb-22 00:52:04

mrsnonsmoker I think it is normal to lose confidence as you get older - my late husband who was an excellent driver, lost a good deal of confidence when he was around 69 - 70 years old, and we eventually realised that it was because he was subconsciously noticing that his reaction times were slowing down and he was missing cues that would have been obvious to him before, as his eyesight wasn't all it had been.

(Obviously glasses would help with the latter, but once your confidence is shaken it can become a vicious circle.)

For myself, after George died, I was petrified to get behind the wheel again as I'd been foolishly content to be a passenger for years. I had about 15 refresher lessons with a sympathetic driving instructor, and that let me get on with it, but I'll never again have the confidence I had when I was younger.

mrsnonsmoker Sun 27-Feb-22 00:56:11

Interesting idea about a driving instructor/refresher course.

Calendargirl Sun 27-Feb-22 07:10:00

A refresher course sounds like a good idea, but just a note of caution. Round here there is a waiting list for 17 year olds to have driving lessons, there is a big backlog from the pandemic and driving instructors are very booked up.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 27-Feb-22 07:20:18

I’m 76 and still driving. My night vision is not so good which is normal for my age so I have adjusted my driving in that I only drive if necessary on familiar preferably well lit roads. My day driving is no different to what it has always been.
After lockdown, I noticed that I needed to give myself time to begin to drive again and so was extra disciplined and careful, but nothing helps more than familiarity. I together with DH drove to Northumberland from the South Coast last summer. We get tired quicker but do extra stops etc.

Carry on, carrying on😄😄

kittylester Sun 27-Feb-22 07:30:35

I'm younger than wwm2 grin but agree with her post.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 27-Feb-22 07:32:04


Esspee Sun 27-Feb-22 07:44:27

I feel that if your instinct is telling you that you are not safe to drive you should pay attention. You will be a danger, not only to yourself and your passengers, but other road users and pedestrians.
I have seen many unsafe older drivers on the road causing danger to others usually through poor decision making in heavy traffic and travelling way below the speed of the other vehicles.
Why put yourself through the stress of driving when not 100% capable. Giving up for the sake of everyone is the right thing to do.

M0nica Sun 27-Feb-22 08:33:04

The Institute of Advanced Motorists runs an assessment drive for older people. It is called the Mature Driver Review and costs £65. Perhaps doing this would help.

Luckygirl3 Sun 27-Feb-22 08:47:04

Thankfully older people, as well as having more years behind them, mostly also have wisdom. This makes them realise when their driving is becoming unsafe, and they take the right steps.

I do not drive on motorways, as I do not think my reaction times are quick enough for the actions of the manic speeders all around me. I only drive at night in places I know well, and not at all if there is rain as the combination of the bright lights heading towards me and the lights reflecting off the puddles and rain is confusing and unpleasant.

It is all a pain in the rear end as I live in the middle of nowhere and driving is my freedom. But needs must.

foxie48 Sun 27-Feb-22 09:17:39

I've always been a confident driver and dislike being driven as tbh so many people are dreadful However, I've driven less during the pandemic and was conscious that although I'm fine on the roads I'm familiar with, driving somewhere new feels a little more stressful. I drove at night to a new place recently and I was shocked at how nervous I felt. I think it's important to keep driving but to prepare well if it's to a new place and to give myself plenty of time. I'd certainly consider taking the "Mature driver's review" if I thought I needed it, what a good idea! fwiw the first signs of my father's dementia showed in his driving and he kept having little accidents that he said were caused by other drivers!

Greyduster Sun 27-Feb-22 09:26:11

Like Poshpaws I was content to be a passenger for a number of years. As our cars got bigger, my confidence decreased exponentially until I gave up altogether. Then, suddenly, I was faced with having to do the driving again. It’s taken me a while to get cosy with the car, and I will never be able to drive motorways, but I am confident that I can at least get us from A to B across the city when I need to. Like others, I do hate driving at night. MOnica’s mature driver review sounds like a good idea.

Elless Sun 27-Feb-22 10:00:32

I can understand mrsnonsmoker but don't give up on yourself. The standard of driving these days is appalling and the 'Theory Test' that potential drivers have to take is not in comparison to The Highway Code. I very often see driving instructors teaching pupils incorrectly and fear they are only out for money. Infuriating 'middle laners' on the motorway are a nuisance but as with a lot of drivers, they don't even know what they are doing wrong 😲

JaneJudge Sun 27-Feb-22 10:06:18

I know this sounds a silly thing to post but I think some places are darker than others too. Urban areas tend to be well lit and easier to navigate in the dark but even in the rain it can be a bit confusing. Some rural areas are so dark that even big A roads are not lit very well in places and become difficult to drive in certain months of the year, especially in rain. This would be the case whatever your age. I am not confident driving in the dark and rain in a lot of places round here in the winter months so it's luckily I don't work shifts!

JaneJudge Sun 27-Feb-22 10:07:02

it is lucky smile I wish autocorrect wouldn't adjust correct words!

henetha Sun 27-Feb-22 10:09:47

I'm 84 and still enjoy driving. I no longer drive at night owing to a cataract (I'm on a waiting list to have it removed).
Hopefully after that I can drive at night again. Meanwhile I am perfectly alright in the daytime, having full permission from the optician to drive as long as I always wear my new glasses.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Sun 27-Feb-22 10:16:39

I'm very cautious by nature most of the time. I learned to drive about 12 years ago. I'm not adventurous and feel safer sticking to the roads that I know. I've been told that I am capable of doing more but I don't want to. I think you have to do what you feel comfortable with.

Marmight Sun 27-Feb-22 10:24:09

I’ve driven since I was 17. Long solo journeys since Mr M died but during lockdown trips have obviously been restricted. Ive always been relatively confident but am considering an advanced driver’s session. I’ve not had any road ‘education’ since passing the test 56 years ago. I’m sure I could do with some updating 🤔.

mumski Sun 27-Feb-22 10:24:35

Some of my friends really annoy me as they airily declare "I don't like driving so my DH can drive me". Well lucky old them but god forbid if any thing happens to their DH they are going to be stuck!.
You have to keep practicing. Driving is the same as anything else "Use it or lose it".

Also it means the ones of us that are driving have to ferry them around hmm

Witzend Sun 27-Feb-22 10:28:18

At 70+ I’m still fine in the daytime, but won’t drive any more on unlit country (or any other unmarked) roads after dark. IMO it’s pretty usual for nighttime vision to deteriorate as you get older - mine certainly has, though it’s fine otherwise.

What did make me nervous until fairly recently was driving to a dd in my previous very old car, in case it died on me on the 6 lane section of the invariably very busy M25.

After trading it in for a mere 2 year old, no problem. 🤞 that will still be the case for a few years yet.

Witzend Sun 27-Feb-22 10:34:10


Some of my friends really annoy me as they airily declare "I don't like driving so my DH can drive me". Well lucky old them but god forbid if any thing happens to their DH they are going to be stuck!.
You have to keep practicing. Driving is the same as anything else "Use it or lose it".

Also it means the ones of us that are driving have to ferry them around hmm

My mother was like this. She’d had her own car for years, but once my father retired and they had just the one, she never drove any more.

So once he fell very ill, it was a case of forcing herself back behind the wheel again, and to her credit, she did it, in order to make possible the otherwise very awkward journey to the hospital. (Using taxis would never have occurred to her - she could have afforded them but to her they were an extravagance too far.)

He died a couple of years later, and she did continue to drive for maybe 10 years, until giving up through increasing nervousness at about 80.

Grandma70s Sun 27-Feb-22 10:44:01

I don’t drive - can’t bear the thought of it. My husband did, and my sons do. I use taxis. Much cheaper than buying and running a car, and you don’t have to park them.

ExDancer Sun 27-Feb-22 10:50:17

I'm in my 80s and still driving, the only drawback being that I don't cope well in the dark - but as i don't need to drive in the dark its not a problem.
However I notice other people (who may or may not ever have witnessed my driving) keep making their views known - that they don't think people 'over 70' or 'over 80' should drive. It worries me that they are implying I am not safe merely because of my age - surely you can't draw an imaginary line and declare all drivers should hand in their licenses at some arbitory age?
ROSPA offer a free assessment which I took a few months ago - you don't pass or fail, they just point out things you should brush up on. I recommend it.

ExDancer Sun 27-Feb-22 10:51:05