Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Dementia can make driving difficult as it can affect memory, concentration, judgement and vision.

Dementia can make driving difficult as it can affect memory, concentration, judgement and vision.
beginning of content

Dementia and driving

2-minute read

Dementia can affect your memory, concentration, judgement and vision, which makes driving a car more difficult. If you have dementia, regular medical check-ups can help you keep track of your condition and whether it's safe for you to drive.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks.

There are many causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Dementia is more common in older people but can affect people in their 40s and 50s.

How does dementia affect driving ability?

Dementia can make driving unsafe because it affects memory, concentration, judgement and vision.

If you have dementia, this can cause problems for driving, such as:

  • getting lost or confused in familiar areas
  • forgetting the purpose of the trip
  • ignoring traffic lights or ‘stop’ signs
  • not seeing vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists
  • difficulty parking
  • slower reactions
  • difficulty using the brake, accelerator or steering wheel

Starting a conversation about driving

It can be hard to talk about driving with someone who has dementia, as they might see it as their right, and certainly a habit. They might see their inability to drive as a very big loss and a decrease in their independence.

  • Discuss their driving habits, so you can find other transport options to keep them active and socially connected.
  • Arrange for more home visits so they don't need to drive.
  • Be positive that their roles in life – for example, a grandparent or partner – will continue without driving.
  • Explain how dementia affects them – while their driving record may be safe, this won’t always be the case.
  • Talk finances – no more paying for registration, insurance and petrol.
  • Encourage regular visits to their doctor and other health professionals to check medication, eyes, diet and general health, to help maintain some independence.

Legal requirements: driving tests and medical clearance

Having dementia doesn’t mean you must stop driving, but to keep driving you will need a medical assessment from your doctor using the Assessing Fitness to Drive National Standards.

Legally, you must notify your state’s road traffic authority about your dementia. If you continue to drive and are a serious risk on the roads, your doctor is legally authorised and obliged to notify authorities.

When to stop driving

Your doctor can advise you to stop driving but your state or territory driver licensing authority ultimately makes the decision.

More information

The Dementia Australia website provides information and resources about dementia and driving in each state:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Dementia Australia | Dementia and driving

Driving is something most people take for granted. It gives us freedom, flexibility and independence.

Read more on Dementia Australia website

Alzheimers Disease - Brain Foundation

Alzheimers Disease Description Alzheimers Disease is a form of dementia a neurodegenerative disease that damages the brains intellectual functions (memory, orientation, calculation, etc

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Amnesia - memory problems

Amnesia means loss of memory. Transient global amnesia is a sudden temporary episode of memory loss, characterised by the person repeating questions.

Read more on myDr website

Exploding Myths About Epilepsy

For many people, overcoming problems related to the social stigma of epilepsy is harder than living with the disease itself.

Read more on Epilepsy Action Australia website

Cerebral Perfusion Study - InsideRadiology

InsideRadiology provides free and easily accessible, accurate, up to date and credible information about medical imaging tests and procedures.

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Physical activity benefits to your body -

The beneficial effects of regular exercise or physical activity on your body range from fighting depression to reducing the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Read more on myDr website

What are the effects of alcohol? | Australian Government Department of Health

Alcohol affects everyone. How it affects you depends on how much you drink, your health, your age and other factors. Drinking too much can lead to harmful short-term and long-term effects. It can affect your physical and mental health, your job, your finances, your family and your community.

Read more on Department of Health website

Effects of Alcohol, Binge Drinking & Withdrawal Symptoms | Your Room

Alcohol is a legal drug which has many short and long term side effects. Read about the effects of binge drinking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms and more.

Read more on NSW Health website

Hypothermia - Better Health Channel

The early responses to hypothermia will be moving around, seeking shelter, hair standing on end (goosebumps) and shivering.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Caution! Diagnosis creep | Issue 2 | Volume 39 | Australian Prescriber

We are labelling more and more healthy people as sick and building bigger potential markets for those selling medicines.

Read more on Australian Prescriber website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo