80 Year Old’s Overtake Younger Drivers

80 Year Old's Overtake Younger Drivers

As people get older, their driving patterns change. Retirement, different schedules, and new activities affect when and where they drive.


Recent research from Roy Morgan show Australians aged 80-plus are now more likely to drive than 18-24 year-olds.

Over the past eight years, the proportion of Australians aged 80+ who get behind the wheel has steadily increased—while 18-24 year-olds have become less inclined to drive. For the first time, in 2015 the oldies surpassed the youngsters as the more likely group to drive: 69% of 80+ (up from 59% in 2007) compared with 68% of 18-24 (down from 72%).

When people retire, they no longer drive to work. With more leisure time, they may start new activities, visit friends and family more often, or take more vacations. Like drivers of any age, they use their vehicles to go shopping, do errands, and visit the doctor. Driving is an important part of staying independent.

Most people 70 and older have drivers’ licenses. They tend to drive fewer miles than younger drivers. But, they are also keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past, often favoring local roads over highways. As the overall population ages, there will be more older drivers on the road.

Even working in from the bookends, all older groups are now more likely to drive than their younger counterparts: 75-79 year-olds are now more likely to drive than 25-29 year-olds (85% vs 78%), while both 65-69 (91%) and 70-74 year-olds (87%) have surpassed the 30-34 group (85%).

In 2007, driving incidence peaked at 93% of people aged 35-49; the peak is still 93%—but today it’s among 50-64 year-olds. Australians aged 16 or 17 are also slightly less likely to drive than they were eight years ago (37%, down 1% point).

When Should Older Drivers Decide when to stop driving

There’s no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving.

Unless your health or eyesight suddenly get worse, it can be difficult to know when you should stop driving.

Your safety and the safety of other road users are the most important things to consider. If you’re concerned that your driving is not as good as it was, don’t wait for an accident to convince you to stop.

It may be time to give up driving if:

  • your reactions are noticeably slower than they used to be
  • you find traffic conditions increasingly stressful
  • your eyesight is getting worse
  • you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to drive safely – ask your GP for advice