Mobility facilitates independence and improves our quality of life. As we age the ability to move around freely can become limited. While all mobility changes can’t be prevented, you or your loved ones can devise a plan to stay safe, mobile, and independent when the time comes to stop driving. The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center walks you through transportation options for older adults as well as choices and solutions for mobility independence

Older Drivers and Transportation Safety

While older adults generally exhibit safer driving behaviors than other age groups, age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning plus physical changes, might affect some older adults’ driving abilities. How can injuries and deaths be prevented? The CDC’s transportation safety key steps can help older adults stay safe on the road.

What to do when an elderly person should not be driving?

Photo of elderly woman driving.

It’s never easy to initiate a conversation about driving safety issues with an older driver. You may be concerned that you’ll hurt or offend your loved one. Alternatively, it can be difficult to admit to yourself that your ability to be a safe driver has diminished.

Discussing changes older adult’s experience in the mind and body such as vision, hearing, reaction time, cognitive decline, medical conditions, and medications can be a good way to approach this topic. However, the conversation is framed, it’s still a challenging conversation to have with someone who is used to the freedom of driving themselves. But surrendering the car keys doesn’t need to mean the end of personal independence. 

There are steps one can take to preserve an older driver’s freedom and mobility, while ensuring safety on the road. Start by taking an objective look at how you or the driver in question is currently functioning. Consider riding along with the older driver or having someone ride with you to provide an impartial evaluation. 

12 warning signs for when to stop driving

Use this National Aging and Disability Transportation Center’s checklist to see if the older driver exhibits any of these warning signs before making a decision about putting the keys away.
YesNoAsk Yourself
__________Other drivers honk at me.
__________Busy intersections bother me.
__________I avoid left-hand turns.
__________Other cars seem to appear out of nowhere and drive too fast.
__________I have been stopped by the police recently for my driving.
__________Turning the steering wheel is difficult for me.
__________I’ve had more “near misses” lately.
__________I have trouble seeing street signs in time to respond to them.
__________I have recently caused a car accident or fender bender.
__________I get confused or lost in familiar places.
__________It’s hard for me to look over my shoulder when I am backing up or changing lanes.
__________My friends and family tell me they are worried about my driving, or that they are afraid to ride in the car when I am driving.