Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Driving Skills in
How can I tell if I need to stop
For many older adults, a time comes when they
find that they can no longer drive safely. You might be worried about a health
problem that affects your driving. Friends or family members might have asked if
you can still drive safely. You should talk about this with your doctor. Your
doctor can check your health and find out if you have the skills you need to
Why would I need to stop driving?
If you have a health problem (such as poor sight
or arthritis), it may not be safe for you to drive. This is also true if you're
having trouble with memory or concentration (for example, if you often forget
where you're going in the middle of a trip).
Your doctor may ask you to limit your driving in
some way (for example, if you don't have good night vision, you shouldn't drive
after dark). You should follow the advice of your doctor and your family. They
may be worried about your safety, and they don't want you to hurt yourself or
other people on the road.
What will my doctor do to help me?
If your exam reveals no health problems that
would make it risky for you to drive, your doctor may still suggest you improve
your driving skills. Physical or occupational therapists may be able to help
you. Changes to your car such as hand controls or wide mirrors may make it
easier for you to drive.
What if I don't want to stop
Most older adults don't want to stop driving.
They want to stay independent and have the freedom to be on their own. Giving up
driving is a change in lifestyle that you may not want to face. However,
remember that your safety is important to your family and to the public. If you
get lost, have near-misses with other cars or have an accident, the results
could be fatal. Rather than risk your life or the lives of others, you should
use other kinds of transportation.
How will I get places if I can't
Friends and family members will give you rides.
Don't feel uncomfortable asking for rides. For example, you can choose to visit
the grocery store with a friend. You can go to a social event with a relative
who is planning to attend. You can also take advantage of public transportation,
taxi cabs or shuttle services. Some towns and cities have special transportation
services for older adults.
Giving up driving makes me feel bad.
Many people are angry when their driving is
limited or when they're not allowed to drive at all. This reaction is
understandable. Although you feel angry now, try to imagine how you would feel
if you were injured or if you hurt someone else. For your safety and for the
safety of others, follow your doctor's advice. Don't drive if you've been told
it isn't safe.