AAA is dedicated to keeping seniors driving for as long as safely possible. We also are committed to promoting viable transportation options for seniors who can no longer drive independently. The following tools and resources are intended to help older drivers and provide valuable guidance to families and friends.
- Communicate openly and respectfully. Nobody wants to be called a dangerous driver, so avoid making generalizations about older drivers or jumping to conclusions about their skills or abilities behind the wheel. Be positive, be supportive and focus on ways to help keep them safely on the go.
- Avoid an intervention. Keep the discussion between you and the older driver you want to assist. Inviting the whole family to the conversation will alienate and possibly anger the person you’re trying to help.
- Make privacy a priority. Always ask for permission to speak with an older driver’s physician, friends or neighbors about the driver’s behavior behind the wheel.
- Never make assumptions. Focus on the facts available to you, such as a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. Do not accuse an older driver of being unsafe or assume that driving should be stopped altogether. Focus the conversation on safe driving and working together.
Develop a Written Plan for Driving Retirement. While it may not be the case for you, most older adults will eventually age out of driving due to medical issues, or traditional age-related declines in health and fitness. Planning for this scenario may not sound fun, but you should want to play an active role in how your family chooses to manage it.
AAA and the American Occupational Therapy Association teamed up to develop a Driver Planning Agreement. It allows your family to plan together for future changes in driving abilities before concerns develop.
Use the Driver Planning Agreement as a guide for your conversation about safe driving. It allows your family to plan together for future changes in driving abilities before they become a concern.
Does your Car “Fit” You?
CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. The CarFit program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that could enhance their safety as drivers, and/or increase their mobility in the community.
Why is CarFit important?
Older drivers are often the safest drivers in that they are more likely to wear their seatbelts, and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when a crash does occur due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies. Driver safety programs improve adult driver safety by addressing cognitive abilities and skills, however, older drivers can also improve their safety by ensuring their cars are properly adjusted for them. A proper fit in one’s car can greatly increase not only the driver’s safety but also the safety of others.
At a CarFit event, a team of trained technicians and/or health professionals work with each participant to ensure they “fit” their vehicle properly for maximum comfort and safety. A CarFit check takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
Related: 90 Percent of Senior Drivers Don’t Make Vehicle Adjustments That Can Improve Safety
To understand and meet the safe mobility needs of older adult drivers, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers study (LongROAD) with the goals to:
- Better understand the major protective and risk factors of safe driving in older adults
- Assess the effects of medical conditions and medications on driving behavior and safety
- Investigate the mechanisms through which older adults self-regulate their driving behaviors to cope with functional declines as they age
- Determine the extent, use and effects of new vehicle technology and aftermarket vehicle adaptations among older drivers
- Identify the determinants and health consequences of driving cessation during the process of aging
Learn more about key studies about older drivers below.
- A Road Less Traveled: Older Men Struggle More Than Women as Driving Decreases
- Addressing Changes in Driving Comfort Early Can Keep Older Adults Driving Safer, Longer
- Regular Exercise and Stretching Can Help Older Drivers Keep the Keys Longer
Additional research findings are available here.