Families, partners, and friends play a large role in an older adult's safety and mobility. Resources to help prepare families and caregivers to discuss safe driving concerns, including the process to reduce or stop driving, can be found here and also in the Coalition's Tips for Talking with Aging Drivers about Safe Driving Concerns brochure. To request a free copy of the brochure send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research indicates that driving discussions between older adults and families and friends can be effective to help address the issues of aging and safe driving. In a survey of 7,200 adults aged 50 and older conducted by The Hartford/MIT AgeLab, more than half followed the suggestions made in conversations they had with their families about their driving.
Even when family members and friends are willing to tackle these difficult conversations, research shows they want more information to begin the discussion. Before starting the conversation it is important for everyone involved to know and understand these things:
- Warning signs and symptoms indicating driving problems (visit the Driver Skills page for more info)
- Tips on observing the older adult's driving abilities
- How to understand the meaning of driving from the loved one’s perspective
- How to begin the driving discussion
- How best to talk about appropriate driving choices and ways to travel around the community as a non-driver
- What are the community resources for driving evaluation and remediation (visit ADED Driver Rehabilitation Provider search or AOTA Driving Specialist locator, or the Health Care Provider Resources page)
- Strategies for driving reduction or retirement
- Local transportation options (visit the Find a Ride page for options shown by county/city)
This conversation can be difficult for everyone involved, but do not let these reasons stop you from having it:
- Apprehension about the older driver's response
- Fear of being disrespectful
- Family may not live nearby to help meet their loved ones transportation needs
- Isolating the older driver if they life alone
- Older adult may not want to burden others for rides
- A crisis has not yet occurred
Postponing the discussion until after a crisis has occurred or bringing it up out of the blue at family gatherings, can bring stress to everyone involved. You may feel that there never is a good time to bring up the issue, but proper planning and preparation can help you.
Florida’s Aging Resource Centers are committed to helping individuals age 60 and above and those who care about them understand and navigate the complex web of available services, agencies and other options. Their goal is to help you find the information, resources, and services you need to make informed decisions.
Florida’s eleven Aging Resource Centers help find agencies and individuals who can provide assistance on a variety of issues – from housing and home care to meals, transportation and other areas of concern. Visit their website to find an Aging Resource Center in your area.
Driving is a very complex activity that requires a number of cognitive skills that naturally decline as we age. But sometimes this decline is a more serious issue that can create a concern for safe driving. See the Dementia page for concerns about memory and its effect on driving ability.
Under Florida law, any physician, agency, family member, or the general public who knows of any licensed driver's mental or physical disability to drive is authorized to report this information to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. DHSMV provides a Medical Reporting form for this purpose and requests the full name, date of birth, and address of the person being reported along with a description of the problem. Anyone reporting the driver must include their own contact information and sign the report. However, this contact information is not shared with anyone, including the driver being reported; it is only used when the report information needs to be clarified.
The reports are kept strictly confidential and no civil or criminal action may be brought against the person who submits the information. For more information on reporting an unsafe driver, visit the FLHSMV Florida GrandDriver Program website.
For most Americans, a driver's license is considered the first outward and visible step toward becoming an adult. Today, many of us see cars as physical extensions of ourselves - transporting us wherever we want, whenever we want. However, the time may come when driving is no longer a safe option. The decision to stop driving is never an easy one. But, the key for a positive transition from driving is planning.
The Florida Aging Road User Strategic Safety Plan contains a Transitioning from Driving Emphasis Area where we have developed specific objectives and strategies to help achieve our goal to bridge the gap between driving retirement and mobility independence. Working with our national, state, and local partners we will continue to develop programs and resources to help older adults and their families prepare for a safe transition to help them maintain independence and remain active in their communities.
The Safe Mobility for Life Coalition Guide for Aging Drivers contains a "Retirement from Driving" section with resources and information to help individuals and families properly plan for the transition.
NHTSA's Driving Transitions Education: Tools, Scripts, and Practice Exercises Handbook was developed to prepare professionals for effective conversations about driver safety and community mobility issues with older adults, their families, and concerned community members.
“Hanging Up the Keys? Options When Driving Retirement Becomes a Crisis.” is a guide that was developed by Annie Harmon of the University of Missouri - St. Louis as part of a 2009 Student Scholars initiative. The document is designed to assist individuals and families in better understanding the current level of risk older drivers face and to direct them to comprehensive resources. The free guide includes a driving checklist, risk factors to consider, communication and safety tips, and information on alternatives to driving.
- Florida's Guide for Aging Drivers
- AARP's on-line seminars are available in both English and Spanish
- Resources for Family and Friends on the SeniorDriving.AAA.com website
- The Hartford's Family Conversations with Older Drivers
- The American Occupational Therapy Association has valuable information for caregivers and families in their brochures, publications, and fact sheets, one of which is Keeping the Older Driver Safe
- The American Journal of Occupational Therapy has a special issue on Older Driver Safety and Community Mobility
- Do You Have a Driving Retirement Plan? from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs
- NIH's Other Ways To Get Around