When Should An Elderly Driver Stop Driving?

Many elderly folks rely on their vehicles as their only source of transportation.  These folks regularly get behind the wheel just as the rest of us do.  However, there is a point where everyone needs to realize they are not physically and mentally able to perform the complex task of driving a vehicle anymore.   All too often we read about crashes where an elderly person crashes into a building because they confuse the brake and gas pedal, or makes some other unexplainable error.  Many of these incidents are minor and thankfully no one gets injured. However, some folks are not that lucky.  

Yesterday a 94-year-old driver killed her 92-year-old passenger in a parking lot crash.  The 94-year-old backed into a car in the parking lot, then suddenly accelerated into a tree causing the car to flip over.   This crash killed the 92-year-old driver.   This is an awful tragedy that could have likely been prevented if the 94-year-old had realized she shouldn't be on the road. Many people know they are having difficulties, but are too stubborn to admit it and stop driving.   This can lead to the tragic outcomes.  This can also lead to claims for punitive damages against the elderly driver or their estate. 

Here are some tips from the National Institute of Aging if you are worried about your driving:

1) You May Have to Stop Driving Due to Joint Stiffness Or Pain:  See a doctor if you are having stiffness or pain when you drive.  If you can't drive without pain or stiffness it may be time to hand over the keys.  This is due to the fact that the pain is going to prevent you from performing tasks such as moving the steering wheel, pressing the pedals, turning your head to check your mirrors.  These tasks must be performed without impairment.


2) If You Can't See Clearly You May Have to Hand over the Keys:  Vision issues affect most everyone, including myself.  However, if a person cannot see clearly even with glasses they shouldn't be on the road.

3) Your Hearing Troubles May Make You An Unsafe Driver:  Driving is a complex task that requires almost all of our senses. We rely on hearing to alert us to dangers and to hear sirens and commands.  If you can't hear clearly and are unable to make adjustments to compensate for the loss of hearing then it may not be a great idea to drive. 

4) Your Medical Issues or Age Affect Your Mental Abilities:  Many people suffer from memory issues, dementia, Alzheimer's, routine minor strokes, or seizures.  These can be deadly diseases if a person gets behind the wheel because the illnesses will impair the person's ability to safely drive.  Aging also affects your reflexes and reaction time.  These cases are tragic when an elderly person kills or injures another due to their mental issues, or simply not having the reflexes to safely drive.  If you are at an age where your mental issues are impairing your driving you should probably stay off the road.  

5) Your Medications May Impair Your Driving:  Medications can cause you to be an impaired driver.  This means you are committing the same crime as a person that chugs a six pack and hits the road.   If you cause a crash then you will likely be arrested and convicted of DUII.  However, your main concern should be that you may injure or kill someone as a result of ingesting your prescribed medication.  Follow the warnings and doctors advice.  If you have to take medication that makes it unsafe to drive, then do not drive.

If you have more questions about elderly drivers feel free to call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  If you, or someone you know, has been injured by an elderly driver call Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law gives a free case evaluation for personal injury clients.  DO NOT RELY SOLELY ON THIS POST TO DETERMINE IF YOU SHOULD BE DRIVING, SEE YOUR MEDICAL PROVIDER OR THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES.   This post could be considered attorney advertising.