Older People and Driving
Driving is a very sensitive issue for most older people. The more objective the family is about their driving skills and abilities the more successful the family will be in convincing the older person to limit their driving or stop driving altogether.
There’s no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving. You can find out more about how changes to your health can affect your driving and how to give up your licence, if needed on the DVLA website.
There is a direct correlation between driving skills and medications in the body. Many medications prescribed for older people can impair driving skills. Over the counter medications can have the same effect. Alcohol combined with medication can be lethal.
Yearly vision exams are crucial to driving activity.
- Glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy are the most common eye conditions associated with aging.
- As people age, peripheral vision is reduced.
- As people age, they may have trouble telling different colors apart
- As people age, their eyes are more sensitive to bright lights
- As people age, night driving becomes more difficult
If problems exist, encourage the older person to consider the safety of others as they make the decision to change their driving habits.
A complete medical exam may be necessary if there are indicators that driving performance is changing.
- Some diseases produce loss of consciousness
- Loss of range of motion in neck, spine and limbs inhibit a person’s ability to check the rear and sides of the road
- Weakness in the arms and legs can interfere with steering, braking and accelerating
- Eye-hand-foot coordination changes
- Reflexes change
- Fatigue affects driving
Your GP is required to report and explain findings that relate to driving skills to the DVLA. This is why it is a good idea to let the GP inform your relative that it is time to consider other forms of transportation. It takes the burden off you, the family member.
How to Negotiate Driving Privileges
The following questions are designed to assist older people and family members engage in non-emotional conversation to determine whether or not it is time for them to stop driving.
- Sometimes when I drive at night, it’s hard to see. Does this happen to you, too?
- Do other drivers make you nervous alot? I know I get jumpy when everybody goes too fast!
- Maintaining a car these days is getting so expensive. How do you do it? Is it worth it?!
- Isn’t parking getting more difficult and expensive these days?
- I was just reading online on the DVLA website about drivers over 70. What do you know about it?
- What did the doctor say about your medications and driving?
- How do you get around when your car is in the garage?
- Have passengers refused to drive with you? What did you do then?
- How about letting someone else drive for once?
- What activities are you afraid of missing? Can anyone else help you get there?
- When was your last eye test? How did it go?
- How much are you paying for car insurance these days? Its getting rahter expensive right?!
If you don’t feel safe driving with an older relative, refuse to go with them or take two cars.