For many seniors, being able to drive is key to maintaining their independence as they grow older. However, as we age, our ability to drive safely also diminishes.
In this article, we’ll be looking at what changes in our ability to drive as we age and if there is an upper age limit to driving?
How Does Age Affect Your Driving?
Statistics from Helpguuide.org show us that older adult drivers are more likely to receive traffic citations and get into accidents than younger drivers. As a rule, this is not caused by recklessness, but by factors such as decreased vision, impaired hearing, slowed motor reflexes, and worsening health conditions.
Older drivers may also suffer from the following:
- Neck pain or stiffness can make it harder to look over your shoulder.
- Leg pain can make it difficult to move your foot from the gas to the brake pedal.
- Diminished arm strength can make it hard to turn the steering wheel quickly and effectively.
- Your reaction times can slow down with age.
- You can lose the ability to effectively divide your attention between multiple activities.
What are the warning signs of unsafe driving?
Unsafe driving caused by aging isn’t something that happens overnight, it tends to happen gradually and can be exacerbated by a change in health.
However, there are some warning signs of unsafe driving that you can watch for:
- Frequent close calls (i.e., almost crashing), dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs.
- Increased citations, traffic tickets, or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers.
- The trouble with the fundamentals of driving such as making sudden lane changes, drifting into other lanes, and braking or accelerating suddenly without reason. Other examples include failing to use the turn signal or keeping the signal on without changing lanes.
- Eyesight problems like not seeing traffic lights and street signs, or having to drive closer and closer to them to see them clearly.
- Hearing problems such as not hearing emergency sirens or horns honking.
- Problems with memory include missing exits that used to be second nature or getting lost frequently. While everyone has occasional lapses, if there’s an increasing pattern, it’s time to get evaluated by a doctor.
- Problems with reflexes and range of motion such as not reacting quickly enough if there’s a need to brake suddenly or quickly look back, confusing the gas and brake pedals, getting flustered while driving, or being quick to anger when behind the wheel.
Giving up the Keys
While there isn’t a set upper limit on your ability to drive, there might come a time where mounting evidence suggests that it’s time to give up the keys. While this can come as a blow to your self-esteem, there are some benefits to not driving.
Public transport has never been more accessible and is generally cheaper to use than car ownership. Walking is another alternative that can improve your health and stave off the negative effects of aging.
Learn to Drive in Nevada Today!
The Northwest Driving School and Traffic School provides the Las Vegas community with live driving and traffic classes taught by seasoned instructors. All of our driving instructors have passed background checks. Each automobile is DMV safety-approved, and every member of the Northwest family is committed to providing excellent driver’s ed and behind-the-wheel instruction.
At Northwest, you can expect to find outstanding classes, both on campus and behind the wheel, that are engaging, fact-filled, entertaining, and geared toward success.
We make no bones about it, we believe that Northwest provides the best driving lessons in Las Vegas, no matter your age or background. We are proud of the fact that 98% of our students pass their tests on the first try. Call us at (702) 403-1592 to start your driving adventure with one of our expert instructors.
Master Instructor, Emeritus