4. Understand your limitations
Consider your physical limitations and make any necessary adjustments. For example, if your hands hurt when gripping the steering wheel, use a steering wheel cover that makes holding and turning the wheel more comfortable. You might ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist, who can offer assistive devices to help you drive or suggest exercises to help you overcome your limitations.
You might also adjust your vehicle or choose a different vehicle to better meet your needs. For example, vehicles that feature larger, easier-to-read dials on the dashboard are often popular with older drivers.
5. Drive under optimal conditions
You can improve driver safety by driving during the daytime, in good weather, on quiet roads and in familiar areas. If visibility is poor, consider delaying your trip or using public transportation. Beyond road conditions, make sure you're in optimal condition to drive. Don't drive if you're tired or angry — and never drive after drinking alcohol.
6. Plan ahead
When you get in your vehicle, be prepared. Plan your route ahead of time so that you don't need to read a map or directions while driving. If you use a GPS device, enter your destination before you start driving. If necessary, call ahead for directions. While you're driving, don't do anything that takes your focus from the road — such as eating, talking on your cellphone, texting or adjusting the radio.
7. Update your driving skills
Consider taking a refresher course for older drivers. Updating your driving skills might even earn you a discount on your car insurance, depending on your policy. Look for courses through a community education program or local organizations that serve older adults.
If you become confused while you're driving or you're concerned about your ability to drive safely — or others have expressed concern — it might be best to stop driving. Consider taking the bus, using a van service, hiring a driver or taking advantage of other local transportation options. Giving up your car keys doesn't need to end your independence. Instead, consider it a way to keep yourself and others safe on the road.
June 26, 2014
See more In-depth
- Marottoli RA, et al. A randomized trial of a physical conditioning program to enhance the driving performance of older persons. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2007;22:590.
- Home safety for people with Alzheimer's: Driving. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/publication/home-safety-people-alzheimers-disease/driving. Accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
- Driving safely while aging gracefully: How is your physical fitness? National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/olddrive/Driving%20Safely%20Aging%20Web/page3.html. Accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
- Tips for caregivers: When driving should stop. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/features/tips-caregivers-when-driving-should-stop. Accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
- Older drivers. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/older-drivers. Accessed April 3, 2014.