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Aging and driving

For many people, driving means independence. It’s understandable that you’d want to keep that independence for as long as possible, especially if you live in an area where public transportation is spotty or nonexistent, where a car can be a vital lifeline. However, driving requires a high-level of physical and mental awareness—skills that naturally decline with age.

Here are some tips to help you drive safely as you age and to help you assess when it’s time to limit or stop driving.

3 Routines to help you stay safe on the road

Your overall health can influence your driving abilities. Here are 3 tips to help you stay safe.1
  1. Get regular vision and hearing screenings. Declining eyesight and hearing are often factors in car crashes involving people over age 65, so it’s important to be aware of changes to your vision or hearing early on.
  2. Engage in regular exercise. Exercise programs increase strength and flexibility, which are important to ensure you can turn your head for lane changes, rotate your body to better see oncoming traffic, and get in and out of your car more quickly. In addition, exercise is also associated with better cognitive functions throughout the aging process. 
  3. Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help assess any aging-related issues you might have with memory, attention, or other functions like the ability to plan and complete tasks—all of which are key to safe driving.

Safe driving tips for seniors

These safe driving best practices can be particularly helpful as you age: 
  • Always wear a seatbelt. 
  • Avoid driving after dark and during rush hour. 
  • Avoid high-speed roads and distractions, like using the radio or a cell phone. 
  • Be aware of medications that can cause drowsiness, confusion, or other side effects that could impair your driving.
  • Consider a defensive driving course, the completion of which might also allow for a discount on insurance premiums. 
  • Also consider seeking out a driving test for elderly drivers—these are designed specifically for people who are getting older and could give you some peace of mind that you can still drive safely.
Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it provides a variety of educational information and resources for older drivers, including materials designed for you as you age and those who care about your safety.

When should you stop driving?

If you notice you’re having trouble with the skills necessary for driving, or your doctor raises concerns about you continuing to drive, you’ll need to consider making the decision to stop driving. This might be a tough decision, but it’s important to do what’s best for your safety and the safety of others on the road.

The good news is, there are still ways for you to stay independent. Consider these alternate forms of transportation if it’s time for you to stop driving yourself:

  • Check out public transportation options and local programs for seniors. 
  • Investigate ridesharing apps. 
  • Explore delivery services for groceries and other necessities.

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1. "Safe Driving for Older Adults," National Institute on Aging, December 20, 2022,

This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.