Driving and dementia

Overview

If you have dementia and you want to carry on driving, this information sheet will tell you what you must do to make sure you are driving legally. It will also help families and friends who are worried about whether someone with dementia should still be driving.

Can people with dementia drive?

The short answer is maybe. Many people with dementia are able to continue driving for some time following diagnosis.

People with a diagnosis of dementia often want to continue driving. Driving can be part of maintaining independence and an active life. Most people in the early stages of dementia are physically capable of controlling a car. The basic skills of driving become almost automatic to most drivers, and people with dementia will keep these skills for a considerable time after diagnosis.

British law assumes as its starting point that you have a right to drive. The law only intervenes when medical conditions impair driving ability. The legal position is that a driver has to be able to drive on his or her own, without help from anyone else. The aim is to allow people to continue to drive if possible.

However, dementia affects reaction speed and decision-making. People with dementia may be slower to react, especially under stress. For example, they may have problems in busy traffic, or when something unexpected happens, such as another car stopping suddenly. Research shows that people with dementia are more likely to be involved in accidents than other people.

So: you may be able to carry on driving, but it is important to make sure you are still safe to drive.

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