Old age and driving

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Statistics show that per mile driven older drivers are over-represented in fatal accidents. Due to their physical frailty they are more likely to be injured in an accident and more likely to die of that injury. When frailty is accounted for and older drivers are compared to younger persons driving the same amount the over-representation disappears. [1] According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a senior citizen is more likely than a younger driver to be at fault in an accident in which they are involved. [2] The most common violations include failure to obey traffic signals, unsafe turns and passing, and failure to yield the right of way. [3]


Physical strength, mental acuity, and overall health can begin to deteriorate as a person ages and they may not even be aware it is happening. Although there are some voluntary measures a person can utilize to check their driving abilities, seniors driving in an unsafe manner is still a large problem. An aging person may have some issues admitting they are no longer fit to take the wheel. It may be difficult to talk with a loved one suffering with these impairments but it is important to communicate the importance of safety when operating a motor vehicle.

Often, family members of an elderly person, such as one's children, are faced with the responsibility of trying to get them to give up driving. This can be challenging because few senior citizens are voluntarily willing to give up their own car keys. [4] [ citation needed ] The law in most places allows senior citizens to keep on driving provided they meet the same requirements as younger adults. Some places require persons above a specified age to take certain tests when renewing their licenses, up to and including a road test, or to receive a physician's certificate stating they are medically fit to operate a motor vehicle. [5]

Some senior citizens may continue to be permitted to drive, but with limitations, such as the amount of driving they can do, the hours in which they can drive, or the distance from home they can travel. These restrictions may be placed either by the law or their insurance provider which vary by state. [6]

Also at issue is determining exactly what age is considered too old to drive. As the process of aging varies from one person to the next, the age at which an elderly person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle declines varies between persons. This creates controversy in regulating driving in the elderly.

Senior citizens are seen by some as among the safest drivers on the road, as they generally do not speed or take risks, and they are more likely to wear seatbelts. [7]


In some elderly people, senses vital to safe driving, such as vision and hearing, decrease to the point that driving safety is compromised. Those whose vision is impaired may continue to be able to drive safely during daylight, but may have difficulty driving at night. In some persons, corrective lenses may improve the ability of the individual to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Physical abilities

Others have decreased physical abilities, such as gross and fine motor skills and reflexes, thereby rendering the driver physically unable to perform at a safe level. [8] [9] These partly explain why an elderly motorist may drive more slowly. [10]


Reduced cognition from mental conditions associated with old age, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia can also impair driving.

Signs of impairment

The following are considered signs that an elderly person's driving may be impaired: [11]

Ageing individuals should consider the following questions: [12]

Growing concern

The number of older drivers on the road is growing and bound to increase at a more rapid rate, as more baby boomers become seniors. [3] According to an AARP spokeswoman, by 2030 over 78 million boomers will be 65+, and research shows that men will outlive their driving abilities by six years and women by 10. [13]

Effects of giving up driving

The operation of a private vehicle is essential to life in many places, especially to one's independence. [14] After the loss of their license, an elderly person may be forced to make major lifestyle changes.

Where available, some senior citizens may turn to public transportation or paratransit.

Where no public transportation is available, or if the individual does not feel comfortable with public transit, one may seek rides from others, such as family members. Though individuals can find alternative means of transportation, these alternatives may be more limiting than one's own car.

Senior-Friendly Transportation

Because giving up driving is viewed by the elderly as a loss of their independence, many may be reluctant to seek out alternative forms of transportation when they are no longer able to drive. The best way for transit providers to meet the transportation needs of most older Americans is to meet the transportation needs of the general adult population. Their needs are similar to other age groups: shopping, getting to work, medical appointments, going to restaurants and visiting friends. [15] Seniors are looking for travel services that provide control, autonomy, and choice. [15] The National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST) states that 83% of older Americans agree that public transit provides easy access to the things that they need in everyday life. [16]

Five A's of Senior-Friendly Transportation

The Beverly Foundation developed these five aspects to greater encompass the necessary requirements to create a senior-friendly transportation alternative: [17] [18]

  • Availability: This alone is not the solution to transportation challenges for older adults. Most public and community transportation systems require passengers to get to a transit stop or to the curb in order to use their services, and senior-friendly transportation must be different. The same limitations that make it difficult/impossible for seniors to drive also can make it difficult for them to get to the transit stop or the curb, or even to get on or off a vehicle without assistance.
  • Acceptability: This suggests senior passenger criteria of comfort and convenience of service. Seniors may have higher standards for transportation because they are used to their personal vehicles. Senior-friendly transportation needs to recognize these standards to which it is being measured.
  • Accessibility: Passengers must be able to access the service and the vehicle. The system must take services to the passengers, and offer them assistance and support prior to, during, and following their travel, coined as "door-to-door, door-through-door, and at-the-destination assistance." [18]
  • Adaptability: Calls for the service to meet the assistance needs of older adults. Multi-stop metro and bus rides are more difficult for elderly because they lack flexibility, which is essential for senior-friendly transportation. It needs to be able to accommodate the use of walkers and service animals, also.
  • Affordability: Aims for transportation to be affordable to passengers and to the transportation services. Research shows it can cost between $5000 and $7500 a year to own and operate an automobile. [18] However, when older adults can no longer drive, they rarely convert savings in automobile ownership into funds which they can use for another transportation option. Senior-friendly transportation systems have the job to educate the elderly about alternative options, and help them to understand that these costs are not an additional expense, but a substitute for the cost of a personal automobile.

See also

Related Research Articles

Driving Operation of a vehicle

Driving is the controlled operation and movement of a vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, and bicycles. Permission to drive on public highways is granted based on a set of conditions being met and drivers are required to follow the established road and traffic laws in the location they are driving. The word driving, has etymology dating back to the 15th century and has developed as what driving has encompassed has changed from working animals in the 15th to automobiles in 1888. Driving skills have also developed since the 15th century with physical, mental and safety skills being required to drive. This evolution of the skills required to drive have been accompanied by the introduction of driving laws which relate to not only the driver but the driveability of a car.

Self-driving car Road vehicle that is capable of moving safely with little or no human input

A self-driving car, also known as an autonomous vehicle, driverless car, or robo-car, is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and moving safely with little or no human input.

Driving under the influence Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance

Driving under the influence (DUI) is the offense of driving, operating, or being in control of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely.

Commercial drivers license Drivers license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in commerce

A commercial driver's license (CDL) is a driver's license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles in commerce.

Elderly care

Elderly care, or simply eldercare, is the fulfillment of the special needs and requirements that are unique to senior citizens. This broad term encompasses such services as assisted living, adult daycare, long-term care, nursing homes, hospice care, and home care. Because of the wide variety of elderly care found nationally, as well as differentiating cultural perspectives on elderly citizens, it cannot be limited to any one practice. For example, government-established elderly care is seldom used in many Asian countries where traditional caregiving by younger generations of family members is preferred.

Designated driver

The terms "designated driver" and "designated driving" refer to the selection of a person who remains sober as the responsible driver of a vehicle whilst others have been allowed to drink alcoholic beverages.

"Grey Dawn" is the tenth episode in the seventh season and the 106th overall episode of the animated television series South Park. It originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 5, 2003.

Graduated driver licensing systems (GDLS) are designed to provide new drivers of motor vehicles with driving experience and skills gradually over time in low-risk environments. There are typically three steps or stages through which new drivers pass. They begin by acquiring a learner's permit, progress to a restricted, probationary or provisional license, followed by receipt of a full driver's license. Graduated drivers' licensing generally restricts nighttime, expressway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full driver's license.

Drivers education Formal class or program that prepares a new driver for obtaining a license

Driver's education, driver education, driving education, driver's ed, or driving tuition or driving lessons is a formal class or program that prepares a new driver to obtain a learner's permit or driver's license. The formal class program may also prepare existing license holders for an overseas license conversion or medical assessment driving test or refresher course. It may take place in a classroom, in a vehicle, online, or a combination of the above. Topics of instruction include traffic code or laws and vehicle operation. Typically, instruction will warn of dangerous conditions in driving such as road conditions, driver impairments, and hazardous weather. Instructional videos may also be shown, demonstrating proper driving strategies and the consequences for not observing the rules.

A driver's permit, learner's permit, learner's license or provisional license, is a restricted license that is given to a person who is learning to drive, but has not yet satisfied the prerequisite to obtain a driver's license. Having a learner's permit for a certain length of time is usually one of the requirements for applying for a full driver's license. To get a learner's permit, one must typically pass a written permit test, take a basic competency test in the vehicle, or both.

Drivers licenses in the United States

In the United States, driver's licenses are issued by each individual state, territory, and the District of Columbia rather than by the federal government due to federalism. Drivers are normally required to obtain a license from their state of residence and all states recognize each other's licenses for non-resident age requirements. There are also licenses for motorcycle use. Generally, a minimum age of 16 is required to obtain a drivers/M1 license. A state may also suspend an individual's driving privilege within its borders for traffic violations. Many states share a common system of license classes, with some exceptions, e.g. commercial license classes are standardized by federal regulation at 49 CFR 383. Many driving permits and ID cards display small digits next to each data field. This is required by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ design standard and has been adopted by many US states. According to the United States Department of Transportation, as of 2018, there are approximately 227 million licensed drivers in the United States.

In India, a driving licence is an official document that authorises its holder to operate various types of motor vehicles on highways and some other roads to which the public have access. In various Indian states, they are administered by the Regional Transport Authorities/Offices (RTA/RTO). A driving licence is required in India by any person driving a vehicle on any highway or other road defined in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

Traffic collision When a vehicle collides with another object

A traffic collision, also called a motor vehicle collision, car accident, or car crash, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree, pole or building. Traffic collisions often result in injury, disability, death, and property damage as well as financial costs to both society and the individuals involved. Road transport is the most dangerous situation people deal with on a daily basis, but casualty figures from such incidents attract less media attention than other, less frequent types of tragedy.

Driver rehabilitation is a type of rehabilitation that helps individuals facing challenges caused by a physical or cognitive impairment or age to achieve safe, independent driving or transportation options through education or information dissemination. Professionals who work in the field use adaptive equipment and modified vehicles to help people attain independent community mobility.

Drivers license Document allowing one to drive a motorized vehicle

A driver's license is an official document, often plastic and the size of a credit card, permitting a specific individual to operate one or more types of motorized vehicles, such as a motorcycle, car, truck, or bus on a public road.

In the Republic of Lebanon, a driving licence is the official document which authorises its holder to operate various types of motor vehicles on highways and some other roads to which the public have access and are issued by each individual district(Arabic: قضاء‎, Kadaa).

A reduced fare program refers to special programs providing particular passengers with a discounted fare option for travel on a public transport system. In the United States, public transportation systems that receive federal funding are required to offer, at minimum, half fares to the elderly and handicapped persons during off peak travel. Some transportation systems also extend reduced fare options to youth, students, military personnel, and low-income passengers.

The Independent Transportation Network of America (ITNAmerica) is a nonprofit transportation network for seniors and people with visual impairments in the United States. It was founded in 2005 by Katherine Freund, the organization's current President.

Katherine Freund

Katherine Freund is an American activist for community based non-profit transportation for older adults and people with special needs. She founded the Independent Transportation Network (ITN) in 1995, which in 2005 grew into ITNAmerica, which leads a national network for sustainable community-based transportation grounded in policy, research, education and technology. ITNAmerica promotes lifelong mobility for seniors.

Two main questions arise in the law surrounding driving after having ingested cannabis: (1) whether cannabis actually impairs driving ability, and (2) whether the common practice of testing for THC is a reliable means to measure impairment. On the first question, studies are mixed. Several recent, extensive studies–including one conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and one conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA)–show that drivers with detectable THC in their blood are no more likely to cause car crashes than drivers with no amount of THC in their blood. Others show that cannabis can impair certain abilities important to safe driving –but no studies have been able to show that this increases the actual risk of crashing, or that drivers with THC in their blood cause a disproportionate number of crashes. On the second question, the studies that have been conducted so far have consistently found that THC blood levels and degree of impairment are not closely related. No known relationship between blood levels of THC and increased relative crash risk, or THC blood levels and level of driving impairment, has been shown by single-crash or classic-control studies. Thus, even though it is possible that cannabis impairs driving ability to some extent, there are currently no reliable means to test or measure whether a driver was actually impaired.


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