When Should Seniors Give up the Car Key

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I lived in North Carolina for 6 months several years ago, where I used uber to the supermarket a lot. Every time when I open the door of the back seats, the senior driver would turn back, smiling: “Hi lady.”



It’s not uncommon to see seniors driving cars on highways. An expert says that driving is a source of independence for many seniors, so determining when they should hang up the keys requires careful consideration.


Primary care providers are uniquely poised to counsel patients about driving safety because they understand their patients’ health conditions, capacities, challenges and goals.” Said Dr. Ericka Tung from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.



It should be noticed that there’s no single test to determine whether it’s time for a senior to stop driving, but health care providers can determine by looking at several areas of physical and mental functioning to assess a senior’s driving fitness.




Vision includes depth perception and visual fields. Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D) and the distance of an object. With bad depth perception, you may have blurred vision, strabismus, amblyopia, etc.


Visual field refers to the degrees you can see, which can be examined through a visual field test.



Thinking skills


Thinking skills include changes in memory, attention or language.


Mobility and physical function


This includes range of motion and coordination of the neck, upper body and lower body.


Health conditions that could affect the ability to safely operate a vehicle


Medications that could impair alertness


Input from family members or other care providers



The above information can all contribute to understanding the senior’s driving performance, ability to do daily basic tasks of living, or their history of falls, and can be used to determine if the senior needs a driver safety refresher course or should stop driving.


Open dialogue is encouraged between patients, families and primary care teams to ensure safety on the road, and it’s critical that seniors stop driving at the appropriate time, not after they’ve had a crash.

5 Answers

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.
At 65 you should stop
I don't feel age itself is the major factor in when to quit.Vision impairment-i don't particularly like driving at night.Mobility and physical adeptness.if you have difficulty with simple movements and a slow reaction time, that would make me more likely to give up my keys.i do exercises to strengthen hand eye coordination. I have a 90ish mother in law that drives uber and her eye hand foot coordination is great.She is a better driver than most because she drives defensively and cautiously.
Age alone can't determine whether it’s time to stop driving. It's true that aging can affect a senior's physical or mental condition. In this case, he or she should give up driving ASAP. But sometimes a senior can be healthy enough to drive a car though he or she is quite old. So you can't tell a senior to stop simply because he or she is over 65.
I’m 83, live 3 hrs from my closest child & drive through St Louis regularly to see them!  Haven’t had a problem yet!
Age is not a factor.I have 93yr.old female friend who still drive safely than young generation.Works 4 hrs 3x a week as homehealth aide drives an hour away to work.Walks faster than teenagers.No bad driving record for her whole life.She avoids driving at night.Her life will be miserable,lonely,depressed for she's a widow who lives alone when her drivers license will be taken away from her.Her independence,staying home is not good for her mental physical,social well being.She will deteriorate fast.Strong physically with sharp cognitive ability.Pls dont let be a homebody she will go downhill.Takes low maintenance dose of meds.LONG LIVE God is good.
Yes. Driving is very good for a senior's mental state. For many older adults, driving is very important to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control and freedom. If you force them to quit driving, the losing independence can often lead to depression.
Are you kidding!!?? To poster that feels you should quit driving at 65
Physical and mental capacity should be criteria for ability.to drive. Id far rather.share theroadways with a healthy 80 plus year old Sat e senior driver than a.hyped.up.teen doped up twenty to. 20 year old.drunk txting.millenial running 10 to 20 over.the speed limit.to their next appointmrlent yacking at 3 kids.acting on out in the car.
Hell I can’t even afford to retire at 65 much less stop driving to get there. You must be 30 something & clueless on life.
I am 71 and very active. I play tennis 3x a week. walk a lot and play competitive bridge. I drive defensively and much more alert then the younger idiots who do not bother to look before they change lanes. So you think anybody over 65 is too old to drive? Look at the accident statistics and you will find out that seniors do not make up most road accidents.
damn right
I am 78 years old have never had a moving violation ticket I've been driving since I was 14 have a million miles safe driving record on the truck driving in Seattle continuously until I was 68 so you young Fellers beat that
Wait till you’re 65 and see if you still feel that way. Just guessing but I don’t think you will .!
And how old are you Daniel?  Age in and of itself isn't the issue.  The persons cognitive and physical status are what should determine when things should change.   I'd rather have a 70 year old that has no cognitive and/or physical issues that could affect their ability to function than a 30 year old that have issues that impair their thought process, vision, hearing and/or physical problems that affect their ability to control a vehicle and that includes impairment due to alcohol or any other substance that affects them in the aforementioned capacities; or a 16 year old with little experience to know what to do in a given situation.  Anyone who has impairments that affect their abilty to see and/or hear, their memory,  thought process, critical  thinking skills, problem solving skills, their ability make split second decisions and the physical ability including strength,  gross and fine motor skills to be able to make split second adjustments based on those decisions should not be driving. A motor vehicle can be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.  I've seen too many mangled bodies of innocent victims because of someone else's poor choices, because someone thought they could do something that they actually could not do.
in todays world i think driving is dangerous for everyone.
let the robots drive and they'll take over the world
Daniel Contreras, how old are you? At 65 I was still agile. At 76, my night vision has changed and range of motion in my neck limits my ability for quick decisions so I tend to stay off interstates if I can. If not, I drive in the far right slow lane. I haven't had a moving violation in 44 years. Can you say the same? I was tested neurologically last year and the doctor said my memory, perceptions etc were better than even younger people she had tested. I live alone so do all my shopping and drive to appts. Not driving would limit me severely. I couldn't drive last year for 3 months after shoulder replacement surgery. I ubered to appts and ordered groceries online but it was depressing not leaving the house or being independent. I know my limitations and put no one else at risk. The driver's license dept has not made me go in person to renew for over 16 yrs. Now, I do think a check on older drivers should apply but I imagine my driving record has a lot to do with it plus my 2005 Ford Taurus only has 53,000 miles on it. Obviously I drive in a 5 mile radius.
I see, you are a quite cautious driver. Senior drivers are sometimes more likely to obey speed limits and follow the rules of the road.
That's very true.   To be completely honest, I know at 57 I am more cautious and careful about not only obeying the traffic laws but driving in general than I was at 27.
I would bet that the person saying after 65 stop driving is under 25
just to let you know i am 76 years old have been accident free all my life still drive from pennsyvania to long island and do high way driving so the person who said 65 does not know what he is talking about or he is a young kid
I think that we should all check into Autonomous Transportation and help Save lives
In 2 months I’ll celebrate my 90 th birthday and it will be behind the wheel.I sympathize with all those folks who no longer feel comfortable driving. Driving allows me to visit my 7 great children regularly and I hope I feel able to drive Safely for another 5 or 6 years.