Help elderly drivers stay on road to safety

Staying on the road to safety may be harder for many elderly drivers than they realize.

The danger

Senior citizens account for only 9 percent of the population, but almost 14 percent of fatal traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As people age, their driving patterns change. For example, retirement, different schedules and new activities affect when and where they drive.

Although most older adults drive safely because they have a lot of experience behind the wheel, when they are involved in crashes, they may be hurt more seriously than younger drivers.

Many see driving as an important part of staying independent, and people 70 and older tend to keep their licenses longer and drive more miles than in the past.

What to do

Elderly drivers and the people who care for them should have a trusted doctor examine their eyes and reflexes to determine whether they should be driving anymore.

If it seems a driver you care about should be off the road, listen to his or her concerns and feelings on the subject.

Explore the possibilities. Are there solutions that could keep him or her driving safely longer, such as getting new glasses or only driving during the day?

Perhaps you can arrange for alternative transportation so he or she doesn’t feel trapped at home.

If he or she sells her car, remind them about the money they’ll save on insurance and maintenance — which can be used for buses and taxis.

Having this talk may not be easy, but you could save a life.

Learn more

For a checklist of which incidents indicate an older person or parent should stop driving, visit