Health & Wellness

How to Stay Safe on the Road as an Older Driver

With more and more older Americans driving well into their 70s, 80s and beyond, there are a variety of things they can do to help maintain and even improve their driving skills. Here are some recommendations by driving rehabilitation specialists that work with older drivers. 

Get an Eye Exam

Because about 90 percent of the information necessary to drive is received through our eyes, this is a good first step in ensuring driving safety. So, get your eyes checked every year to be sure your vision and eyewear is up to par.

Get a Physical or Wellness Exam

As people age, it’s also very important to monitor changes in overall health as it relates to driving. Medical conditions like arthritis, dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea and stroke can all affect driving.

In addition, many seniors also take multiple medications or combinations of medications that can make them drowsy or lightheaded, which can impair judgment or affect reflexes or alertness necessary for safe driving. So, an annual physical or wellness examination and medication review is also a smart way to verify your driving safety.

Take a Refresher Course

AARP and the American Automobile Association (AAA) both have older driver improvement courses that can help you brush up driving skills and understand how to adjust for slower reflexes, weaker vision and other age-related physical changes that can affect driving. Taking a class may also earn you a discount on your auto insurance. To locate a class, contact your local AAA ( or AARP (, 888-227-7669). Most courses cost around $20 to $30 and can be taken online.

Make Some Adjustments

Adjusting when and where you drive is another way to help keep safe and behind the wheel longer. Some simple adjustments include not driving after dark or during rush hour traffic, avoiding major highways or other busy roads, and not driving in poor weather conditions.

Have Your Driving Evaluated

To stay on top of your driving abilities you should a trusted friend or family member take a ride with you from time-to-time to watch for problem areas. For example: Do you drive at inappropriate speeds, tailgate or drift between lanes? Do you have difficulty seeing, backing up or changing lanes? Do you react slowly, get confused easily or make poor driving decisions?

For more evaluation tips, AAA offers a senior driver self-rating assessment exercise (Drivers 65 Plus) that you can access at

If you need a more thorough evaluation, you can turn to a driver rehabilitation specialist who’s trained to evaluate older drivers and offer suggestions and adaptations to help keep them safe. But be aware that this type of assessment can run anywhere between $100 and $500 or more. To locate a professional in your area, visit or – search “driving practitioner directory.”

When it gets to the point that your driving isn’t safe anymore and you need to quit, you may need to ask for help to create a list of names and phone numbers of family, friends and local transportation services that you call on for a ride.

To find out what transportation services are available in your mom’s area contact the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116), which will direct you to her area agency on aging for assistance.

Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.

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