This decision aid helps you decide if you are still able to drive safely. You may also find it helpful if you are worried about the safety of an older adult driver.
As you get older, your vision, reflexes, and hearing change. These changes can make it harder for you to drive safely. For example, as you age:
Of these changes, vision is the most important. Aging affects your vision in several ways:
People age 70 and older are more likely to crash than any other age group besides drivers age 25 and under. And because older drivers are more fragile, they are more likely to get hurt or die from these crashes.1
There's no set age when everyone should stop driving. Each person is different. But most people drive 7 to 10 years longer than they should.2 You might think about giving up driving if:
Here are some other warning signs that it's time to stop driving:
Even with planning, deciding to stop driving is hard. It marks the end of a stage of life. And you might be worried about how you will get around.
Here are some ways to get ready.
If you do stop driving, it's okay to keep your car for a while. You might feel better just knowing it's there. And it may be easier to ask others for help if you can offer the use of your car.
If you have weighed the pros and cons and have decided to keep driving, think about taking a driver safety course for older drivers. It will help you measure how well you can drive. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers a course. So do many hospitals and state motor vehicle departments.
Next, talk with your doctor about any health problems that could get in the way of driving safely, such as:
To stay safe while driving:
|Stop driving||Keep driving|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I never thought I would stop driving. But one day I drove through a stop sign and got a ticket. My daughter Amy sat me down and told me she's been worried. I've had some close calls on the road. I can't drive at night at all anymore. Now Amy's afraid to let my grandkids ride with me. That was hard to hear. But I think it's time for me to stop driving. I'm actually kind of relieved."
— Beulah, 68
"I like being able to go where I want, when I want. So I took the driver course for older adults. I did okay. I passed. But I'm a careful driver. I don't drive anywhere that's out of my comfort zone. At some point, I may have to stop driving, but not now."
— Mateo, 81
"At first I was angry when my wife started hinting that I should stop driving. I've had a perfect driving record for 60 years! But sometimes I get lost when I'm driving by myself. And last month, I had to pull off the highway on the way to the doctor's office. All the cars were going so fast, I got scared. Then I almost hit another car on the ramp. Maybe my wife is right. Maybe I should think about not driving anymore."
— Stefan, 79
"I would just feel terrible if someone else got hurt while I was driving. I think I'm okay behind the wheel right now. I have a handout from the senior center on safe driving tips. It includes some warning signs to watch for, so I'll know when it's time to think about stopping. Even though I'm going to keep driving, I can start planning now for when I can't."
— Grace, 75
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to stop driving
Reasons to keep driving
I'm worried about getting into an accident.
I'm not worried about getting into an accident.
I feel nervous and scared when I drive.
I feel sure of myself when I drive.
I'm afraid that my driving might lead to someone else getting hurt.
I'm not afraid that my driving might lead to someone else getting hurt.
My loved ones are worried about my driving.
My loved ones are not worried about my driving.
I am comfortable depending on others to help me get around.
I want to be able to go where I want, when I want, without depending on others.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
1. Aging causes physical changes that can make it harder for me to drive safely.
2. I'll know it's time to stop driving when I reach a certain milestone age.
3. Older, experienced drivers like me are less likely than other drivers to crash and get hurt while driving.
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine|
American Society on Aging (ASA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (2007). Drive Well Toolkit: Promoting Older Driver Safety and Mobility in Your Community. Available online: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Driver+Education/Senior+Drivers/Drive+Well+Toolkit:+Promoting+Older+Driver+Safety+and+Mobility+in+Your+Community.