Caregiver Resources - Driving

Canada is seeing older drivers well into their 70s and 80s.  Although many are successfully maintaining a healthy, independent lifestyle; there are those for whom driving becomes a risk with age, as physical ability and mental fitness changes.(2)

Why is it important?

  • Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population (3)
  • The leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 65 to 75 years old in Canada today is driving-related accidents (3)
  • Driving is vital to older adult’s independence (3)

Common Causes

  • Depth perception and ability to judge speed deteriorates (2)
  • Visibility at night diminishes and sensitivity to light increases (2)
  • Forms of cognitive impairment can affect the ability to perceive, organize, assimilate, process, plan, learn, judge, etc. (3)
  • Difficulty with mobility, flexibility, motor coordination or grip (3)
  • Medications may increase driving risk (e.g. side effects of drowsiness) (2)

Key Considerations

  • Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, diabetes can impair an individual’s driving ability (1)
  • Some medications interfere with your ability to drive safely (e.g. sleep aids, medicine to treat depression, antihistamines   for allergies and colds, strong pain-killers, and diabetes medications; consult physician about medication - both prescription and over-the-counter drugs to reduce side effects and interactions (4)
  • Have your eyes checked once a year and wear corrective lenses if needed (4)
  • Have hearing assessed when signs of hearing loss are present (2)
  • Exercise regularly to maintain and improve strength and flexibility (4)
  • Drivers and family members can consult the Information for Older Adults brochure from Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists:
    (http://www.olderdriversafety.ca/documents/CAOT%20Eng%20OLDER%20ADULTS.pdf)
  • A refresher driving course could help eliminate some unsafe driving patterns and help develop new strategies (2)
  • Practice safe driving: plan ahead route, drive during daylight, avoid distractions while driving, consider the use of public transit (4)
  • Discuss safe driving in future with health professional and family members; develop driving retirement plan (3)
  • Consider stopping driving if your driving results in a serious crash or if you, your family/friends notice unsafe driving behaviours (1)

References

1.      BCAA. (2014). Older Drivers. Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:
         http://www.bcaa.com/road-safety/older-drivers/plan-to-stop-driving#tab-/road-safety/older-drivers/
         plan-to-stop-driving/medical-conditions-and-driving


2.      BC Ministry of Justice. (2013). Seniors: Mature Drivers. Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:
         http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/osmv/road-safety/seniors.htm

3.      Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. (2009). Older Drivers in Canada.
         Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:  
         http://www.olderdriversafety.ca/professional/warning_signs/index.html

4.      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Injury Prevention and Control:
         Motor Vehicle Safety
.  Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:  
         http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/older_adult_drivers/adult-drivers_factsheet.html