senior couple driving The Federal Highway Administration reports about 87 percent of the driving-age population has a license. Of that number, about 16 percent are over the age of 65. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), age can have a negative effect on driving ability. If your older loved one is reluctant to stop driving but has experienced a change in proficiency behind the wheel, it may be time to consider alternative modes of transportation.

What are some factors that can impact senior drivers and how can they be combated? 

4 Factors Affecting Senior Drivers

As we age, our minds and bodies go through many changes. People over 65 tend to have more health complications and could experience mental lapses. How can this affect driving?


Safe drivers must be capable of handling a motor vehicle and staying alert of what’s happening around them. As the brain deteriorates with age, the following may be affected:

  • Memory
  • Judgment
  • Attention
  • Reactions

Without these mental capabilities, a senior driver could pose several dangers to other motorists. For instance, he or she may have poor depth perception and pull out in front of a fast approaching vehicle or become lost, driving aimlessly through the streets.

Vision & Hearing

Vision and hearing are imperative when behind the wheel. Proper vision helps us anticipate the actions of other drivers on the road, while good hearing alerts us when someone is beeping or an emergency vehicle is approaching. Without these faculties, senior drivers could put themselves and others on the road at risk.


It’s extremely important to make sure it’s safe to drive while on medication. While a senior may not be on heavy painkillers, some medications can lower the skills needed to be an effective driver. For instance, a certain medicine could cause drowsiness and reduce alertness behind the wheel. Join your loved one for a trip to the doctor, so you can learn more about the effects of certain medications.

Overall Health

Does your aging family member have a serious health condition? Anything from arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease could make it dangerous for a senior to drive. If your family member is suffering from a medical disorder, consult a doctor about his or her ability to safely continue to operate a motor vehicle.

4 Safety Tips for Senior Drivers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, people over the age of 65 accounted for 18 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2016. How can these accidents be avoided?

  • Refresh driving skills with an improvement class, like AAA’s Roadwise Driver™ course.
  • Regular vision and hearing tests to make sure vision and hearing aids are up-to-date.
  • Health management, including chronic conditions and medication interaction.
  • Staying at home when the weather conditions are unsafe.

Avon Health Center is your local resource for information on aging and senior health. To learn more about our services, contact us today!