Ensuring the Safety of Older Drivers

Everybody has to deal with aging and, at some point, address concerns about driving as they age. However, it’s important to remember that becoming a senior doesn’t mean a person is no longer capable of driving. However, there is a fine line that loved ones of the elderly must pay attention to when it comes to an aging driver in the family. At some point, you and your family will need to plan ahead so that you can make sure your loved ones are all safe while in a moving vehicle, and not a threat to other drivers in the vicinity.

If you aren’t sure how to approach the difficult task of recognizing and then talking about the changes in an elderly family member’s driving skills, we’re going to help you with some of those concerns today. If you need more information than what’s provided here, NHTSA has compiled an excellent list of free resources to help as well. After all, if you are noticing signs that imply your loved one may no longer be safe while driving, you may need to have a difficult conversation without them about their driving and help them learn about other types of transportation so that they can still run errands and have both freedom and mobility.

If you need to talk about driving safety concerns with an older driver, keep in mind that many older drivers see their ability to drive as an important part of their independence. Talking about an older driver’s driving skills can make that older driver immediately act defensive. So, you need to be prepared, and also need to consider what other types of transportation methods you feel that older driver would be willing to try.

If you’re not sure yet about approaching your older driver about his or her driving skills, then you can ask yourself a few of these questions to assess what you need to do:

  • Does your older driver get lost easily on routes that he or she should know?
  • Have you noticed any additional scratches or dents on your older driver’s vehicle?
  • Has your older driver’s doctor mentioned that your older driver should limit driving due to health issues?
  • Even if a doctor hasn’t mentioned it, are you concerned that your older driver might be experiencing an illness that could affect your older driver’s ability to drive?
  • Has your older driver mentioned he or she nearly missed a crash?
  • Does your older driver occasionally speed or drive too slowly?
  • Does your older driver seem uncertain about road signs while he or she is driving?
  • Has your older driver gotten any tickets recently?
  • Is your older driver taking any medications that could affect his or her driving?

 If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might have to face the difficult situation of discussing driving skills with your older driver.

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, be prepared to take steps appropriate to the situation, which might include talking with your loved one about safe driving and/or ceasing driving. You can learn how to talk to older drivers about this situation here and also read over some tips about how you can approach speaking to an older driver about this situation here.

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