Mobility is a key component in any individual’s quality of life. Aging, however, affects critical driving skills in a number of ways and can make it dangerous for the senior citizen and others on the roadway if the person continues to drive. This section provides some information on driving skills and links to websites that give an accurate picture of road safety and the aging driver.
Functional decline related to aging does not affect all drivers at the same time or in the same way. Although specific abilities needed to drive safely — such as vision, memory, physical strength, reaction time, and flexibility — may decline as we age, the rate of change varies greatly across the older adult population.
Many older adults do not differ significantly in their driving habits from their middle-aged counterparts, who statistically are the safest group on the road. By improving their functioning, by learning new or compensatory strategies, or by using and training on adaptive equipment, many older adults can continue to drive safely. Providing information about alternative ways to get around, communities also can help older adults make smoother transitions from driving full-time to cutting back or stopping driving altogether. More information can be found on our Local Community Resources webpage.
The National Institute on Aging has produced an Age Page brochure that contains helpful information.
Taking into consideration how aging effects safe driving, these are the most common problem areas for aging drivers:
- Making left turns
- Driving at night
- Merging into traffic
- Changing lanes
- Yielding to traffic
- Following traffic signals
- Impaired driving* (including prescription and over the counter medication)
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, "Intersection Negotiation Problems".
AAA Foundation Report, "Enhancement of Driving Performance Among Older Drivers".
In accordance with Section 627.0652, Florida Statutes, any Florida driver 55 years of age or older is eligible to complete a driver safety course and receive a cost reduction on car insurance for three years. For a list of mature driver/insurance discount courses go to the Florida DHSMV website at http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/mature_discount.html.
The Florida DHSMV website also has lists of commercial driving schools providing behind-the-wheel training at this link http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/drivingschools/.
To find the closest AARP Driver Safety Course near you, visit their Driver Safety website.
Florida Safety Council is one of the approved insurance discount courses mentioned above and is offered in either a classroom or online. The goal of the insurance discount class is to help mature drivers over the age of 55 within the state of Florida maintain their safe and defensive driving skills, obtain auto insurance discounts, understand their abilities and learn techniques to compensate for changes. Also provides defensive driving training for court-ordered seniors. More information on both the classroom and online course can be accessed at their website.
AAA Auto Club offers both in classroom and on-line safety courses, visit their website for more information.
I DRIVE SAFELY, offers an on-line course, visit their website for more information.
CarFit is an educational program created by the American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with American Automobile Association (AAA), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association. CarFit offers older adults the opportunity to check out how well their personal vehicles "fit" them, information and materials for community-specific resources and activities that could make their personal vehicles "fit" better, enhance their safety as drivers, or increase their mobility in the community. More information on can be found on the CarFit website.
DriveWell is a comprehensive information program designed to encourage older drivers to change when and how they drive. Access presentations, handouts and facts sheets at the DriveWell website.
The Florida GrandDriver Program is an education and awareness campaign of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and is based on a program developed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The goal of the campaign is to educate the public about the effects of age on driving ability and to encourage drivers to make appropriate choices as we age - choices that maximize personal safety and the safety of our communities. More information and educational resources can be found on the Florida GrandDriver website.
A driving assessment is designed to help aging drivers determine whether it is wise for them to continue driving. There are a number of skills assessment tools including evaluation by professionals or self-assessment forms that can help seniors make good decisions about safe driving.
How to Find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist Near You:
A list of Florida Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists who offer driver evaluations can be found by visiting their website and selecting "Florida" in the search box. You can also download a pdf version of the latest listing (October 2014) here.
Some Self Assessment resources can be found here:
The "Am I Safe to Drive?" section starting on page 30 in Florida's Guide for Aging Drivers. Learn how to get your free copy here.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's DriveSharp takes a unique approach to driving safety. It is not a driving simulation or education program. Instead, it’s a brain fitness software program that sharpens the most important safety equipment of all: the mind of the driver. Visit their website to find more Information including how to purchase this software program.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's Roadwise Review their screening tool that is designed to measure physical and mental abilities shown to be the strongest predictors of crash risk among older drivers. This assessment tool also provides feedback to guide users about their ability to drive safely.
AAA Foundation has a self rating quiz for drivers 55+
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has developed a web-based version of their self screening tool "SAFER (Self-Awareness and Feedback for Responsible) Driving: The Enhanced Driving Decisions Workbook" and can be viewed on their website.
New York Times article "Are You a Good Driver? Here’s How to Find Out".