Senior Drivers: Knowing When Driving Becomes Too Dangerous


Whether you are the senior yourself or the child of an aging parent, relinquishment of one’s privilege to driver can be life changing and disruptive to either one of you. If you are the senior, your sense of independence is all of a sudden infringed upon. Not to mention, you pride and ego is bruised when something you have acquired and maintained for decades is no longer yours. On the other hand, if you are the child of the senior, it can be tough to watch the person whom you always thought possessed “superpowers,” deteriorate and not unable to accomplish simple tasks. Studies have shown that the aging/elderly population is more likely than any other age group to cause or become involved in a fatal accident.

According to USA Today, fatality rates for drivers over the age of 65 increase significantly. Researchers with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, joined forces with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and found that persons from ages 75 to 84, contribute to the rate of three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers. This goes to show that experience is not always a necessary determinant when deciding if one should be licensed or not. Where persons are over 85 years of age, the rate surges to nearly four times higher than that of teenage drivers. The following four reasons have noted to contribute to this ideal:

  • Mental: It is generally known that as one ages their memory begins to suffer and mere brain function decreases
  • Physical: Those aging persons become unable to fluidly make quick maneuvers or simply turn their neck in order to view oncoming traffic
  • Visual: The most important factor to any motorist, the ability to see clearly. As one ages their vision is usually affected.
  • Reaction Time: In the event that one must respond in a quick manner while on the roads, aging persons are less likely to be able to do so

When dealing with an aging driver as the child one may want to ease into the discussion by asking questions such as:

  • Do you still feel confident behind the wheel?
  • Are there ever any times where you are frightened for yourself or other while you are driving?
  • How is your anxiety level while you are driving?
  • Do you ever find getting around a confusing and wearisome task?
  • Would you consider an alternate plan?

In most states, you can find a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist who is able to determine whether you or your parent’s skills are adequate enough to continue driving. These individuals are usually referred to by the person’s health care provider. However, they are also available inquiries and consultations.

In deciding whether it has become dangerous for an aging motorist to continue driving all aspects of the ordeal must be considered. Rather than worrying about if their ego is bruised, save them from a life or death situation. They have taken care of you your entire life, not it is time for you to take care of them.