It is normal as people age for their driving abilities to change. “Driving fitness” is more about function than age. Many older adults can continue to drive by reducing risk factors and taking safe driving precautions. It is important though to recognize changes as you age that can interfere with safe driving.
The following are common changes and conditions that can affect driving:
• Pain and stiffness can make it harder to look over the shoulder and switch lanes
• Leg pain can make it hard to maneuver the pedals
• Weakened arms can make it hard to turn the steering wheel quickly and effectively
• Reaction time is slower
• Vision may be reduced, making it harder to see at night or in bad weather conditions
• Aging can make it more difficult to multi-task, which makes keeping track of road signs, traffic, pedestrians and road markings more difficult
• Medications elderly patients are prescribed may cause drowsiness or dizziness
• Get an annual eye exam
• Get an annual hearing exam
• Find out about your medications side effects (if they make you tired or dizzy)
• Sleep well
• If possible, find a car that is safe and ask about its safety features. Many cars come with important safety features and it may make driving less difficult if you have power steering, an automatic transmission and power brakes.
• Make sure your care is well maintained and in good condition
• Drive defensively
• Know your limitations. If you feel uncomfortable driving and if you have memory problems, poor eyesight and/or hearing or poor reflexes and limited range of motion, it is better to be safe than sorry.
• Get a professional evaluation. If your doctor thinks it is not safe for you to drive, there are many alternatives to driving such as public transportation and not driving saves a lot of money.
Note: The NICHE for Patient+Family Encyclopedia provides links to third party web sites, however, NICHE does not recommend and or endorse any products or any of the content on any third party websites.