Warning Signs of Unsafe Driving

Changes with Aging

“Driving provides older people freedom, independence, and key social interactions with their community that many people take for granted in their youth. But the privilege of driving is based on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Many factors can diminish the driving performance of older adults, including age-related changes in reaction time, and visual, cognitive, and/or muscle disorders that become more common with age. Drugs are commonly used to treat disorders in older people, and some classes of drugs can be sedating and impair driving performance.” (https://www.merckmanuals.com/)

Learn more by downloading the Older Driver Manual by Merck.

Warning Signs of Unsafe Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises family members to look for the following indicators that an elderly driver may need to stop driving and consider alternative modes of transportation.

  • Drifting into other lanes.
  • Straddling lanes.
  • Making sudden lane changes.
  • Ignoring or missing stop signs and traffic signals.
  • Increased confusion while driving in traffic.
  • Braking or stopping abruptly without cause.
  • Accelerating suddenly without reason.
  • Coasting to a near stop amid moving traffic.
  • Pressing simultaneously on the brake and accelerator pedals while driving.
  • Difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects and other vehicles.
  • Increasing levels of anxiety while driving.
  • Driving significantly slower than the posted speed limit or general speed of other vehicles.
  • Backing up after missing an exit or turn.
  • Difficulty reacting quickly and/or processing multiple stimuli.
  • Problems with back/neck flexibility and turning to see traffic/hazards around the car.
  • Getting lost or disoriented easily, even in familiar places.
  • Failing to use turn signals or keeping signals on without changing lanes.
  • Increased “close calls” and “near misses.”
  • Receipt of two or more traffic citations or warnings in the past two years.
  • Dents and scrapes on their car or on surrounding objects where they drive and park at home, such as fences, mailboxes, garage doors and curbs.