Aging and Driving

As we age, there are changes that can affect our driving skills. From declining eye sight and hearing to slower reaction times and cognitive changes, it's important to be aware of these changes and take steps to continue driving safely.

Aging and Driving
Photo by Preston Browning / Unsplash

Aging and driving–The aging adult and the privilege of driving

The process of aging can affect our driving. Getting older does not mean that we need to give up the keys.

  • Changes in eye sight
  • Physical condition
  • Slower response times may cause safety concerns.

More and more older drivers are on the roads these days. The numbers are going to increase as the baby boomers begin to retire. It is important to understand that aging doesn’t mean that you become a unsafe driver. Many of us continue to be good, safe drivers as we age. But there are changes that can affect driving skills as we age.

Aging and Driving Safely

For your safety and that of others, we need to take responsibility. We cannot take the privilege of driving for granted. With that responsibility we will need to be honest with ourselves. We must be honest with as others and pay special attention to your limitations

A decrease in our flexibility

Over time our joints may get stiff and our muscles weaken. It can become more difficult to turn your head. Stiff shoulders and bad knees can affect how we drive. A few seconds of slower reaction time can make a difference in safety.

Eyesight changes.

Our eyesight is the primary sense utilized in driving. Our eyes relay the information to our brain as se drive. As we age we need more light to see things.

Oncoming headlights, street lights and sun glare may affect what we are able to see. Night vision and the lack of light at night, affects our ability to see things clearly. This can affect our response time. The area you can see around you (called peripheral vision) may become narrower. Aging eyes are a part of aging and driving concerns.

Response time is slower

A few seconds can make a difference in a serious situation.

Difficulty concentrating

Difficulty with concentrating may make it difficult for you to do two things at once. These are all normal changes of aging, but they can affect your ability to drive safely. Here is a program you may want to investigate; Elderly Driving Assessments

Decrease in hearing

Hearing may affect your ability to respond in a safe and timely fashion. Decreased hearing may keep you from hearing oncoming emergency vehicles. It may keep you from hearing someone honking to make you aware of a dangerous situation

Cognitive changes

Conditions that cause mental decline may affect ones ability to drive. Confusion or forgetfulness may exhibit increase problems with the aging driver. This may exhibit in a senior family member having more traffic tickets. Or warnings. Or even “almost” had an accident event.

It is important that caregivers and friends track their driving over time. As the disease worsens, it will affect driving ability and can result in a disaster. Anyone that has even a slight cognitive impairment should be advised not to drive.

A senior driving self-assessment quiz is a way to address your ability to drive. It will help you to identify areas in your driving skills that may need improvement. It can also make recommendations to assist you to continue to be a safe driver.

Have a story about your experiecne with your elderly driver? Would like to share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story