Q Is there a law about being too old to drive?
The ability to drive is related to health rather than years. A very fit 80 year-old who is mentally sharp may be able to renew her license with ease, whereas a 65 year-old with moderate visual problems cannot. Should a 78 year-old man who cannot turn his neck be permitted to drive? Or a physically healthy 95 year-old with memory problems?
The range of physical and cognitive impairments that can interfere with driving include vision, hearing, mental ability, (judgement, attention, memory), hand strength, foot and ankle agility, and a host of other tiny neurological and physical maneuvers that most younger drivers do without thinking. One of the newer developments in senior safety involves checking to make sure your car still fits you, in terms of both comfort and safety.
One of the reasons many older drivers refuse to quit is that they fear they will lose independence. Before you stop driving, or suggest a loved one do so, look into community transportation options in your area. There might be low-cost taxi vouchers for seniors, free bus passes, volunteers or senior shuttles. Another reason is they don’t know how to check for changes that impact their driving.
A few resources to check your driver safety:
- car-fit.org offers 12-point checklist to make sure your car is still a good physical match for your aging body.
- AARP offers several programs at www.aarpdriversafety.org.
- CHECK YOUR STATE LAWS: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/OlderDriversBook/pages/Chapter8.html
In addition to checking your own safety, most states will allow anyone to report an unsafe driver (check your local DMV for the form or process). If you suspect a friend, parent, spouse or neighbor should be tested for driver safety, you owe it to the community to report it. Most reporting is anonymous, although some states require doctors to report concerns. Wouldn’t you rather monitor yourself than wait for someone else to report you?
Call us for a free brochure on older drivers- 888-994-3863, ext. 2390.
CareFit for Seniors” Westways, November/December 2015, page 11.
“Too Old To Drive? Depends On Which State You Live In,” available at: http://blog.aarp.org/2012/09/17/too-old-todrive-depends-on-which-state-you-live-in/
“Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers,” a physician’s guide found at: