Driving skills may decline with age. But don't assume that getting older brings an automatic end to driving, says the August 2015 Harvard Health Letter.
"Age and health conditions aren't enough to determine if a person is okay to drive. It requires an individual assessment of skills," says Lissa Kapust, a social worker at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Many hospitals, sheriff's offices, and other agencies offer driving assessment programs that can evaluate senior drivers and help them overcome weaknesses behind the wheel. Many of these programs take a team approach to evaluating a person's driving ability. Social workers, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists look at the person's driving history, family concerns, overall health, cognitive function, and driving reflexes. Then it's on to a road test.
The team looks at all of the information and recommends whether the driver needs to hand over his or her car keys, or whether brushing up on certain skills is needed. "We may suggest working with a driving instructor to focus on errors we found in the driving assessment, such as maintaining lane position," says Kapust.
Some driving programs can also help seniors get up to speed on the latest driving laws in their state and learn about technologies in newer cars, and can even help them fit better in their cars by adjusting the position of the seat, head restraint, steering wheel
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.