Seniors & Driving

Many seniors overestimate their driving ability. As a concerned family or community member you may be the first to recognize a senior’s dangerous driving behavior and raise concern.

We offer these resources for helping the senior in your life adjust to this new phase that may often be accompanied by strong emotions.

Watch for the Warning Signs:

  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Drifting into other lanes or the shoulder
  • Changing lanes, braking or accelerating abruptly
  • Missing highway exits and turns
  • Unintentionally antagonizing other motorists
  • An increase in traffic tickets or warnings
  • Slower reaction times
  • Difficulty with night vision and night driving
  • Forgetting to use turn signals
  • An increase in exterior dents and dings

Staying Safe Behind the Wheel

It may not be time for your loved one to give up the keys entirely, but there are steps you can take to ensure they’re driving safely. 

  • Make a good-faith effort to help your loved one stay on the road. Ask them to take a refresher driving course or enroll in the AARP Driver Safety Program.
  • Seek out an objective assessment of their driving abilities. A third-party opinion can provide a baseline for decision making and help make the follow-up discussions about driving impartial. Ask your loved one to take the driver assessment questionnaire provided by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Agree to a set of driving restrictions. For instance, you may both decide it’s only safe to drive on local roads during the day, carry a cell phone for emergencies and have their vehicle serviced regularly.

Retiring From the Road

Convincing a senior to stop driving can be difficult. Helping your loved one envision a full life without a car may increase the likelihood that they will give up the keys on their own accord:

  • Know the local transportation alternatives. Demonstrate how public transportation, family members or friends are available to let them maintain their customary round of activities.
  • Investigate local home-delivery services. Make a catalog of the local services that can deliver to your loved one’s home, including dry cleaning, take-out food and groceries.
  • Emphasize monetary savings. Insurance, gasoline, maintenance and repair, registration and licensing can add up to several thousand dollars a year, an expense that is hard to justify if your loved one only runs errands in their car a few times a week.
  • Keep an open mind and be flexible. Some seniors may feel less of a sense of loss if they can keep their own car and have others use it to provide transportation. If they can retain their dignity, they’re more likely to give up their keys.

Some Sunrise Senior Living communities have partnered with AAA and AARP to host senior Driver Safety programs especially designed for seniors. Call your local Sunrise Senior Living community to find out what programs may be available in your area.