How Aging Can Impact Driving Ability

Seniors driving

It’s not uncommon to feel concerned for your older loved one behind the wheel. Many things change about our bodies and minds as we age, and driving can become worrisome for families.

It’s not an easy task to broach the subject of driving with your older family member. It is often a last means of independence and they are not going to give it up willingly. However, considering these factors is essential for ensuring their safety and well-being on the road.

Considerations for Older Drivers

Eye Sight

It’s just a fact that our eyesight begins to change as we age. Glaucoma, cataracts, blurry vision, and more can cause our eyesight to start to fail. This can be dangerous for someone driving.

They may not see lights clearly, pedestrians, or other cars. Avoid drinking at dusk or at night, get regular eye exams, and don’t let them take long trips on their own.

They may start to have trouble making out the difference in the color of traffic lights. They may also have problems seeing in low light, fog, rain, or other weather conditions that wouldn’t normally be an issue.

The fact that the person is likely smaller than they once were can also cause them not to be able to see everything they need to. Sitting on a cushion can help, as long as they can still reach the pedals.


Our hearing decreases as we age. While it’s not as vital as eyesight, it is still important that the driver is aware of any sirens coming up behind them, horns honking, or some noise coming from their own car.

Getting regular hearing tests can make sure they are getting the treatment or additional hearing aids they may need. If there is hearing loss, it’s a good idea to keep the noise inside the car to a minimum.

Keeping the radio off or on low and making sure passengers are not talking and causing a distraction is going to make the trip that much safer. If they use hearing aids, they should be in place before starting out.

Reaction Time

The time it takes an older person to react to something is much slower than a younger person. A person with even minor physical limitations can become a hazard.

Getting flustered behind the wheel or the need to react quickly can be confusing for someone older and the situation may just get worse. Eye-hand-foot coordination is a must when operating a motor vehicle.

Making sure that the person who is driving keeps up their strength and agility is important. Hitting the wrong pedal in a moment of panic can be a great misfortune to them or someone else, or both.

Other Concerns

Many people may be taking medications that will directly impact their eyesight, hearing, and their cognitive abilities. It’s important that you read the labels and warnings for all types of medication and a combination of medications.

Mental health plays a role, too. People can be feeling low or lonely, or depressed and not be paying close attention to the road. Other issues like dementia also have to be taken into consideration.

Stiff joints and arthritic hands or feet can be another reason a senior is having more difficulty behind the wheel. They may experience numbness in their arms, legs, feet, hands, or in other places.

Even issues like keeping the vehicle maintained may fall away with someone who is older. They forget about changing the oil, or can’t hear that there is a thumping somewhere.

There could be reasons why they don’t keep the car maintained but it is vital that it is. Any small thing out of place for a senior can become a rather bigger issue if they cause an accident.

Aging and Driving Safely

Comprehending the impact of aging on driving skills is paramount to safeguarding both elderly drivers and fellow road users. By acknowledging potential hurdles and enacting suitable measures, we can assist older adults in preserving their autonomy while upholding road safety standards.

Proactive measures like routine health assessments, adjusting driving behaviors, and considering alternative transportation avenues are essential strategies to empower seniors in navigating the roads securely and with confidence. Additionally, integrating a medical alert system into their driving routine can provide added reassurance and support during unforeseen emergencies.