Plan ahead to ensure the safety of aging drivers.
Getting older does not mean a person's driving days are over, but with age comes physical and mental changes that may affect the ability to drive safely. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6,907 people 65 and older were killed in traffic crashes in 2018 (19% of all traffic fatalities).
Over the past five years in North Dakota, 91 motor vehicle fatalities were age 65 or older.
By tracking changes in your eyesight, physical fitness and reflexes, you may be able to adjust your driving habits to stay on the road. NHTSA developed the following questions to help you decide if physical changes have affected your driving skills:
If you answered yes to these questions, click here to find out what your next step should be.
- How is your eyesight? Do you have trouble...
- Reading signs easily?
- Seeing street markings, other cars and people walking? - especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
- Handling headlight glare at night?
- Do you have control of your vehicle? Do you have trouble...
- Looking over your shoulder to change lanes?
- Moving your foot from the gas to the brake pedal?
- Turning the steering wheel?
- Does driving make you nervous, scared or overwhelmed? Do you...
- Feel confused by traffic signs, and people and vehicles in traffic?
- Take medicine that makes you sleepy?
- React slowly to normal driving situations?
What can you do?
If you think you need to have a conversation with an aging driver about his or her ability to drive, remember that many older drivers look at driving as a form of independence. So the subject may make some drivers defensive. Be prepared with your observations and questions. Answer these NHTSA questions to help you decide if you need to initiate a conversation:
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, review the resources below to determine what is best for your loved one.
- Are they getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
- Have you noticed new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
- Have they received a ticket for a driving violation?
- Have they experienced a near-miss or crash recently?
- Have they been advised to limit/stop driving due to a health reason?
- Are they overwhelmed while driving?
- Have you noticed them speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
Precautions aging drivers can take:
- Always wear a seat belt - every seat, every trip, every time.
- Avoid distractions like cell phones.
- Be aware of medications and possible impacts on driving/alertness.
- Avoid driving when weather or other conditions make travel challenging.