Curious about when seniors should stop driving? Discover key considerations and helpful tips for navigating this important transition.
Explore the average age for seniors to cease driving, common signs indicating it’s time to stop, and practical advice for transitioning away from driving.
Senior Driving Statistics Worth Considering, according to AAA:
- Drivers over 75 years cause more car crashes than drivers between 35-54 years of age.
- Older drivers have higher fatality rates because they are more fragile.
- 8 out of 10 people in their 70s are arthritic, coupled with crippling joint inflammation. The pains associated with these make it hard for you to turn, twist, or flex.
- Close to 6000 senior drivers lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2014.
- In 2009, 58% of fatal accidents involving aging drivers had the drivers themselves to blame for their deaths.
- More than 75% of aging drivers are on some medications. However, only ⅓ understand the effects of their medications on driving.
- Seniors cannot effectively grip and turn the steering wheel. Moreover, they have difficulty opening the doors or windows.
- Seniors have difficulty pressing the brakes or accelerator due to weaker muscles. Their range of motion and flexibility is limited.
But what is the average age for seniors to stop driving altogether and resign to being driven whenever they go anywhere?
There is no clear answer; aging affects adults differently. That is, some people lose their abilities earlier than others. So you have to determine when to stop driving based on your condition.
Some elderly drivers in the United States continue to drive well past their 9th birthday! The time you stop driving should be determined by your performance on the road, not age. But when you get to 85 years of age, it’s time to start preparing for life away from the steering wheel, even if you feel you are fit as a fiddle. It is less safe to continue driving after you turn 85 years.
Signs That You Shouldn’t Drive Very Often
- Being unable to read the traffic signals – If you cannot read the traffic signals correctly, you will cause an accident sooner or later.
- Driving too fast or too slow for the occasion.
- Diminishing confidence while on the wheel.
- Side-swiping other cars- If you swipe other cars on the sides more often than you used to, you better quit before it’s too late. Being involved in minor accidents more often is tied to this point.
- Finding yourself lost in areas you are familiar with so that you have to call a family member for directions or depend on GPS.
- Hearing your friends and family tell you that you should drive less often. Others may not tell you directly, but would be concerned when you are to drive away with children! If the children are not safe with you behind the wheel, then you are not fit to be behind the wheel.
- When you suffer from old-age health conditions like dementia.
- Forgetting to give the signal when switching lanes.
Renewal Guidelines for Elderly Drivers in New York
New York drivers, regardless of age, are subject to the same rules when renewing their licenses. The renewal process occurs every eight years and can be completed through various methods:
- Online renewal: Follow the instructions outlined on the DMV website under the “Renew License or ID” section.
- Mail-in renewal: Fill out the Application for a Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID Card and submit it via mail.
- In-person renewal: Visit any DMV offices across the state to renew your license.
Maintaining proper vision is crucial for renewal, and proof of adequate vision is necessary. There are two ways to fulfill this requirement:
- Option one: Take a vision test administered by a provider listed in the DMV Online Vision Registry. The provider will directly submit proof of your test results to the DMV.
- Option two: Obtain a Vision Test Report and have a qualified provider complete the report.
Qualified providers can include:
- Physician’s assistants
- Registered nurses
- Nurse practitioners
Potential License Restrictions
After conducting a driving assessment and discussing possible restrictions, the DMV has the authority to impose certain conditions on an individual’s driver’s license.
For older drivers, wearing glasses or corrective contact lenses is the most frequent restriction. In New York, the DMV may also enforce other common prerequisites for older drivers, including:
- Telescopic lenses
- Limited to driving during daylight hours
- Mandatory use of hearing aids while driving
- A prohibition from driving on highways with on-ramps and off-ramps
- Special vehicle equipment includes gas pedal extensions, hand-operated brakes, complete hand controls, or full-view mirrors.
Requesting an Investigation for an Unsafe Driver in New York The New York DMV welcomes information on potentially dangerous driving behavior observed or known by individuals, including:
- Police officers
- Physicians who are required to complete a Physician’s Reporting Form
- Concerned individuals must fill out a form titled Request for Driver Review and send it by mail to the designated address along with their names and signatures. The DMV does not accept re-evaluation requests via phone or email.
The DMV Testing and Investigation Unit assigns a license examiner to review the submitted request and determine if the driver should undergo reassessment. If warranted, the DMV sends the driver a certified letter requesting an in-person interview and evaluation.
I’m Aging, But I Still Love Driving. What Do I Do?
A good number of elderly drivers are not willing to hang their boots even when the family voices their concerns about their safety on the road. This is because driving by themselves gives them a sense of independence, control, and pleasure.
If you love driving but old age is limiting your driving abilities, you can still enjoy driving by following these tips:
- Drive through familiar areas near your home.
- Do not drive at night or through harsh weather.
- Avoid expressways.
- Avoid distractions at all cost. For instance, do not text or make a call while driving. Also, avoid conversations with your passengers.
What to Do After You Stop Driving Due to Old Age
At some point, you will have to stop driving entirely. Nobody can accurately pinpoint when that will be, but you should mentally prepare for such a time.
Each year, many elderly drivers give it up and find alternative ways of transportation.
This is how to live your life when you can no longer drive:
- Use mass transit to move around.
- Ask friends or family to drive you to meetings, functions, or whichever appointment.
- Only buy medications, groceries, or meals from the on-demand delivery stores.
- Try at-home providers—for instance, mobile hairdressers.
What If I’m Concerned a Family Member Is Too Old to Be Still Driving?
When you are concerned a loved one is no longer safe driving, you should urge him to request a driving evaluation. This is usually performed even at a rehabilitation center for the elderly, but you can go for it at a driving school or NYDMV if you are here in New York.
If your loved one insists on driving even after the evaluation indicates he is no longer fit for driving, you must disable the car or take it away.
Remember that asking a loved one to stop driving is a spirited discussion, so try to do it with sufficient tact. Be respectful to the elderly; don’t make them feel useless and miserable. Many have been driving for decades, so stopping can create a massive vacuum in their already slowed lives.
If you go about it the right way, they can self-evaluate, thus saving you from having to take them to evaluators. Present facts as they are, but lovingly: tell them why they should finally surrender their driving license, and how you plan to help them run errands, etc. Be compassionate and balanced, not too legalistic. Don’t be like, “you will soon cause an accident, and then you will spend the rest of your life in jail…”
How do you know when the elderly should stop driving?
Below are just a handful of indications that may suggest unsafe driving:
- Delayed reaction to unforeseen situations.
- Easily becoming distracted while behind the wheel.
- Decreased confidence while driving.
- Struggling to change lanes or maintain proper lane position.
- Frequently hitting curbs when making right turns or reversing.
- Frequently experiencing scrapes or dents on the vehicle, garage, or mailbox.
- Regularly encountering close calls or near accidents.
- Driving either too fast or too slow given the prevailing road conditions.
What percentage of 90-year-olds drive?
As anticipated, the driving frequency experiences a significant decline as age increases. Among men, the percentage of drivers decreases from 88% in their early 70s to 55% among those aged 85. Among women, the percentage of drivers ranges from 70% in the 70 to 74 age group to 22% among individuals aged 85 or older.
Does age matter in driving?
Since each individual undergoes the aging process uniquely, no specific age limit dictates when someone should discontinue driving. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that older adults tend to have a higher likelihood of receiving traffic citations and being involved in accidents compared to younger drivers.
How do I tell my elderly parent not to drive?
4 strategies for persuading a senior to cease driving:
- Compile a discreet list of observations regarding their driving skills.
- Offer alternative transportation solutions.
- Approach the topic with respect and empathy, recognizing the difficulty of the situation for them.
- Show understanding and allow them sufficient time to come to terms with the necessary adjustments.
Should seniors drive at night?
Around the age of 60, the human eye necessitates approximately three times more light for optimal visibility compared to when an individual is 20 years old. This natural deterioration in vision poses additional difficulties for seniors when driving during dusk and in dark environments. In certain cases, this effect can be as significant as wearing sunglasses while operating a vehicle at night.
What is the driving life expectancy of persons aged 70 years and older in the United States?
According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, the driving life expectancy of US drivers aged 70 to 74 years is approximately 11 years. Among the oldest old drivers in the study (those aged 85 years and older), driving life expectancy was approximately 2 years, and this remaining period of driving covered about one-third of the total life expectancy for men. The study used life table methods to estimate total life expectancy and driving life expectancy of 4699 elderly persons who were driving in 1993 and reassessed in a later year.
What are the risks of driving for older adults?
The risks of driving for older adults include age-related vision changes, hearing, motor reflexes, and overall health, which can affect driving ability. According to the CDC, conditions such as poor weather and driving at night increase the likelihood of crash injuries and deaths for older drivers
Additionally, factors such as stress, fatigue, and distraction can decrease driving ability, and older drivers may have higher fatal crash rates per mile traveled than middle-aged drivers. It’s important for older adults to be aware of these potential risks and to consider making adjustments to their driving habits, seeking regular check-ups, and discussing any concerns with their doctor to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road.
Can a 70-year-old man drive?
The ability of a 70-year-old man to drive varies depending on individual health and capabilities. While some individuals may continue driving safely past the age of 70, it’s important to consider age-related changes that can affect driving ability, such as vision, hearing, and overall health.
Wrapping it Up
Regardless of your career, you are going to retire someday. You should be ready to accept realities as gracefully as possible so as not to give your loved ones undue pressure.
It would help if you were the first to note that your days on the wheel are coming to an end. Stop driving with your dignity intact. There are still other exciting ways to spend your sunset years.
If you are aging, but you feel a driving refresher course is all you need for now, you can join Pierre Paul Driving School.