Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent, however as we age, declining vision, cognition, physical changes and medication may affect safe driving. Aging drivers may benefit from a comprehensive driver evaluation that includes both clinical and behind the wheel assessments to assess medical fitness to drive.
Reasons to participate in Driver Evaluation
Normal physical changes with aging can include: difficulty walking or maintaining balance, slowed reaction time, loss of flexibility, or diminished strength. All these challenges may affect skills for controlling a motor vehicle.
90% of all decision making behind the wheel is related to visual processing. Macular degeneration, cataracts, diminished visual acuity, loss of peripheral vision, or impaired depth perception can impact visual processing while driving.
Ongoing Medical Conditions
Conditions such as arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, back or hip pain or other physical challenges limiting range of motion or strength may affect one’s abilities to look behind them when backing, steer, maintain lane position, or apply the gas or brake pedals appropriately.
Dementia or Alzheimer's Diagnosis
For individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or who are showing signs of cognitive decline or memory loss, a driver evaluation is warranted as driving requires constant judgment and quick decision making behind the wheel.
A Recommendation to Stop Driving Has Been Made
A physician of family member of an aging individual may make a recommendation to cease driving. If the aging driver is unsettled or does not agree with this recommendation a comprehensive driver evaluation by an expert in the field of driver rehabilitation can aid in knowing if driving retirement is the best option.
Family Members Express Concern Regarding Safety
Family members may notice changes in driving skills of an older adult that lead to safety concerns. A comprehensive driver evaluation can provide input regarding how age related changes or medical challenges are impacting safe vehicle control and additional resources.
- Resources for Older Drivers
- American Medical Association Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers
- Driving Safety Guides from The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence
- AAA Senior Driver Self Rating Tool
- How Medications Can Affect Driving
- Help Guide Older Driver Safety
- American Occupational Therapy Association Driving and Community Mobility
- NHTSA Video Toolkit on Medical Conditions in Older Drivers
- Center for Disease Control Older Driver Article
- AARP Driver Safety Programs
- NV Rides
- Neighbor Ride