Transportation planning recognizes that each of us ages at our own rate. Individual capability, medical conditions, and the areas in which we live, may all influence how we can be a safe road user. Education and awareness play a major role in an individual’s transportation plan. It is always easier to plan ahead rather than face an abrupt change due to a crisis. Mindfulness about someone’s road use habits should begin early.

Transportation planning doesn’t have to start with a decision to no longer drive. In many cases it starts with education and awareness about steps a person can take so they can drive safely for as long as it is reasonable. For example, they can invest in safety features available in cars, identify adaptive equipment that will make driving easier and safer, or take a driver safety class to refresh on safe driving habits.

Road safety of a family member is an ongoing conversation as individual’s capacity for safe driving changes with age. There are also good times to consider a conversation about safe driving habits. Starting early and including transportation planning in a person’s financial and medical planning is advised. This empowers the individual in the process and lets them see ahead to make the appropriate plans. Our Older Driver Transportation Planning Tool can help with this process.

While it is important to start the conversation early and have these discussions frequently, certain indicators may present specific discussion points for you with your family member. The Hartford and MIT Age Lab conducted a survey of older drivers that included a question asking under what conditions would the driver feel like someone should talk to them about their driving. The following situations (percentage of respondents indicated) offer some suggestions for when you might want to have conversations about driving habits and road safety.

  • If I had some incidents of forgetfulness or getting lost while driving (66%)
  • After a significant change in my health (66%)
  • If they were generally concerned about my safety (59%)
  • If I was involved in a serious accident (44%)
  • If I narrowly avoided being involved in an accident (29%)
  • If I was involved in a minor accident (21%)
  • If I made a mistake while driving (15%)

For more information visit The Hartford Family Conversations Guide.

The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) provides a handout, Talking About Driving with an Older Driver, to help you identify when a conversation might be warranted.

Plan For the Road ahead provides tips in their Conversation Starters Guide.