Driving under the influence of age
Natural changes to our bodies as we age affect our ability to drive safely.
Age should never be used as the sole indicator of driving ability. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2018, there were over 45 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older in the United States which is a 60% increase since 2000. By the year 2030, one of every five drivers in America will be 65 years of age or older. Driving helps older adults remain independent. Senior drivers are some of the safest drivers on the road and often decrease their risk of injury by wearing safety belts, not drinking and driving, and by observing speed limits, but the risk of being injured or killed in a traffic crash increases as people age. Older adults have the second-highest crash death rate per mile driven. Natural changes to our bodies as we age affect our ability to drive safely. Thankfully, there are steps that older adults can take to stay safer on the roads.
- Always wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger. Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle collisions.
- Avoid driving in poor weather or at night to decrease the likelihood of being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
- Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol impairment leads to reduced coordination and impaired judgment.
- Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.
- Have your doctor or pharmacist review both prescription and over-the-counter medications to reduce side effects and interactions.
- Avoid distractions in your car, such as talking or texting on your phone or eating.
- Consider a CarFit program to help make adjustments so you are properly "fitted" for your vehicle.
Consider getting a professional driving assessment. Clinical driving assessments are used to identify underlying medical causes of any driving performance deficits and offer ways to address them, so driving remains a safe option.
The same way we think about planning our job retirement, we should also think about planning for our driving retirement. Making a plan for driving retirement allows us to establish a plan for maintaining independence and social connections for when we can no longer drive. There are many transportation alternatives available to help older adults maintain independence when it is no longer safe to drive. Alternatives such as public transportation, family and friends, or private transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft are all options that can help one get around town.