Medical professionals role in older driver safety

Mitigating the impact of changing capabilities, medications, and medical conditions on road safety can increase the health and safety of the patients you serve while they continue to drive. The risk of crashes for older drivers is, in part, related to physical, visual, and/or mental changes associated with aging, medications, and/or disease. As a medical professional, you can be instrumental in helping individuals recognize when to stop driving due to the increased risk of injury. Patients tend to hold a deep respect for clinicians’ authority and guidance. In fact, a recent survey indicated that older adults prefer that driver safety conversations be held with their physicians or family members.[1[

You can help improve road safety for your patients. Consider the following:

  • Use annual checkups to review older patients’ driving practices and capabilities.
  • Discuss the impact of medical conditions and medications on driving safety.
  • Identify solutions to help patients continue to drive safely.
  • Refer patients to occupational therapists and other specialists who offer testing, assessments, and interventions that allow older adults to continue to drive safely. Additionally, recommend appropriate support and consultations to help older drivers plan for giving up the keys should that time come.
  • If necessary, refer a patient to your state medical review board. Referring an older driver for a medical review is one step in helping the older driver. It often does not result in a driver losing their license. Rather, it enables the older driver to identify how to be safer on the road.
  • Integrate safe driving into your ongoing patient care.

[1] The Hartford & MITAgeLab. (2019). We need to talk: Family conversations with older drivers.