Old Driver Safety

IF YOU’RE A FAMILY CAREGIVER: CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE TALKING TO AN OLDER DRIVER

Getting older does not necessarily mean a person’s driving days are over. But it’s important to plan ahead and take steps to ensure the safety of your loved ones on the road. NHTSA offers free material to help you learn more about how to recognize and discuss changes in your older loved one’s driving. If they are no longer able to drive safely, you can guide them toward transportation options that meet their mobility needs.

If you think you need to have a conversation with an older driver about his or her driving abilities, remember that many older drivers look at driving as a form of independence. Bringing up the subject of their driving abilities can make some drivers defensive. So be prepared with your observations and questions, and suggest alternative transportation options if necessary.

Answering the following questions may help you decide if you need to initiate a conversation with an older driver about driving safely:

  • Are they getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
  • Have you noticed new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
  • Have they received a ticket for a driving violation?
  • Have they experienced a near-miss or crash recently?
  • Have they been advised to limit/stop driving due to a health reason?
  • Are they overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
  • Are they taking any medication that might affect driving safely?
  • Have they received a ticket for impaired driving?
  • Have you noticed them speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
  • Are they suffering from any illnesses that may affect driving skills?

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.

First, learn how to understand and influence older drivers, and consider printing and sharing these tips on talking about driving with an older driver. Also consider that a number of older people, when asked, would listen more to a health professional than their family. Determine which best fits your situation.