Medical Conditions and Safe Road Use

Visual, cognitive, and physical skills that affect driving ability decline with increasing age. Aging drivers often have difficulty seeing objects at dusk and in the evening. Judgment may become impaired, making you less able to react at higher speeds and make turns in front of oncoming traffic. Also, medical conditions such as arthritis or weakening muscles and joints can make it challenging to safely operate a vehicle. The American Society on Aging (ASA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have developed a series of handouts (see links below) that you may find informative.

Changes in our medical conditions are inevitable. With each new diagnosis you experience, you may want to discuss with your doctor the impacts it may have on driving safely. The same is true about medications. New medications may bring side effects that you will need to be aware of as you consider your driving habits. How medications interact may also contribute to side effects that impede your vision, hearing, functional, or cognitive capabilities. As your medical conditions and medications change, be sure to ask your doctor how these might impact your driving safety.

While most older adults compensate for these age-related health issues, some do not. It’s those who fail to compensate for physical or mental declines, and those who do not stop driving if their limitations cannot be addressed, who suffer a higher risk of causing crashes.

As we age, doctor office visits may start to include questions about driving experiences, whether you feel safe and comfortable driving, if there are certain driving conditions that lead to more fear or anxiety than others. Your doctor may also suggest that consultations with a medical specialist or Driving Rehabilitation Specialist to best identify how you can improve driving safety.

Information on Driving with Medical Conditions