With years of experience behind the wheel, senior drivers are amongst some of the safest drivers on the road. However, the skills and abilities required for safe driving can sometimes deteriorate with age. It's estimated roughly 5,000 people age 65 or older are killed and 222,000 are injured in car accidents each year.

Age-related declines in vision, reaction time, and cognitive functioning are the main causes for elderly motor vehicle accidents. Senior citizens are more susceptible to injury and therefore more likely to sustain more severe injuries in a crash. Luckily, there are a few precautions elderly drivers can take to decrease their chances of ending up in an automobile accident.

  • Avoid driving in severe weather or at night.
  • Exercise daily to increase strength and flexibility.
  • Ask your doctor to review medications to reduce unintended side effects.
  • Have your eyes reviewed by an eye doctor every year.
  • Avoid distractions like loud radios, food, or cell phones.
  • Consider alternatives to driving like riding public transit when avaliable.
Elderly Couple Driving


Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? Michigan Auto Law has answers.

  • What self-imposed driving limitations do you recommend for seniors?

    If you aren’t sure that you can drive safely, you probably can’t. Older drivers who have concerns about their ability to drive safely need to have that conversation right away about safety with those closest with them and with their medical doctors. At the very least, you should stop driving at night and driving on the highway, driving in bad weather and driving long distances until you know you do not pose a danger to yourself and others on the road.

  • What should seniors or their adult children look for when evaluating whether or not it's time for mom/dad to hang up their car keys?

    The telltale signs that an older driver may need to reconsider his or her ability to safely drive include failing vision, confusion (dementia – in some cases), loss of physical coordination (both of which can affect something as simple as the ability to push down on accelerator when you meant to apply the brakes), problems with balance, declines in cognitive functioning and perception and delays in reaction time.

    Watch those medications you take and make sure they do not impair driving. Many medications will. If someone is becoming increasingly confused, disoriented and/or forgetful, then those are strong indicators that the older driver may need to permanently hang up those car keys and let someone else drive behind the wheel.

  • What should older drivers have in their vehicle to enhance safety?

    They should have their driver’s license and any other identification that contains their contact information and the contact information of a spouse, family members, and friends – in case of emergency. They must have their glasses if they wear them and/or they’re having vision issues. They should have a fully-charged, functioning cell phone and a cell phone charger in their car at all times so they will always be to be able to call for help. In the event that an older driver is stranded, it will be helpful – and possibly lifesaving – to have a backup supply of necessary medications – as well as bottled water and, maybe, some powerbars. A heavy blanket is very helpful for those who live in areas of the country that experience cold winter temperatures. Additionally, older drivers should have the same safety items recommended for all drivers: flares, a first aid kit, a flashlight, jumper cables and some type of a warning device in your trunk if your car becomes disabled.

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