Driving is an important life skill in our society representing independence, freedom and control and many people with a recent diagnosis of dementia successfully continue to drive without incident before gradually deciding to stop. Stopping driving is a decision often taken by the person with dementia and not by a family member or a medical doctor. For many years there has been very little official guidance on this issue but this has now changed. The Road Safety Authority has published Medical Fitness to Drive Guidelines that aim to promote mobility and road safety. At the Memory Clinic in St James’s Hospital we have updated our driving advice for people newly diagnosed with dementia to reflect these changes. We now recommend that after diagnosis one must:
1) Inform your insurance company
All car insurance policies require that you inform the insurance company of any changes to your health status. Failure to do so will invalidate your insurance policy. They will advise you on what steps you are required to take in order to continue to drive.
2) Inform your Driving Licensing Authority
It is your responsibility to inform the Driving Licensing Authority of your diagnosis. Contact details of your local Driving Licensing Authority can be found at
3) Successfully complete an ‘on-road’ driving assessment.
This is not like the learner driving test. Normally an assessor will accompany you as you drive around familiar routes and assess your ability to drive competently and safely. They will then furnish you with a report that you can submit to your insurance company. In general it is recommended that this road-test is carried out approximately every six months. An on-road assessment can be carried out by any Road Safety Authority Approved Driving Instructor, however, your doctor or healthcare professional may provide you with details of assessors experienced in working with people with a dementia. You will shortly be able to download a full version of this leaflet at www.dementia.ie
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