Mobility Independence

Driving as We Age

Older adult driving

As we all age, changes occur in our physical functioning, vision, perception, and processing abilities that could make driving unsafe. While changes are inevitable, they occur at different rates in each individual, and age alone is not a good indicator of driving skills. Most often these changes occur slowly over a long period of time, and the individual is able to compensate for minor deficits. If several skill areas are affected, or there is a sudden change in abilities due to illness or disease, driving may become impaired.

To help determine your fitment to continue driving, a driver rehabilitation specialist can provide a comprehensive evaluation. The assessment should include a review of medical history and medication, vision, cognition, perception, functional ability, reaction time, and a behind-the-wheel evaluation. If it is determined that continuing to drive is appropriate for you, the driver rehabilitation specialist will help you identify what special equipment or accomodations are needed, if any.

While the goal is to maintain safe and independent driving for as long as possible, a driver rehabilitation specialist can also assist with a driving cessation plan if you choose to discontinue driving. This would include consultation on alternative transportation options and budgeting tailored to your living situation.

8 Signs an Older Adult May Need a Driver EvaluationOlder adult driving a vehicle

  1. Failing to observe signs, signals, or other traffic
  2. Requiring help or instructions from passengers
  3. Making slow or poor decisions
  4. Becoming easily frustrated or confused
  5. Getting lost, even in familiar areas
  6. Driving at inappropriate speeds (either too fast or too slow)
  7. Making wide turns or driving in a poor road position
  8. Getting in accident or near misses

Adaptive Driving Equipment

Possible Mobility Solutions for a Older Driver

Oftentimes, older adults are able to prolong safe driving with adaptive equipment and vehicle modifications. While every driver is unique, the equipment listed below is frequently used by older adult drivers whose abilities have declined due to age, illness, or disease. In addition to these items, there are more products available to help create a safe and comfortable driving experience that is customized for you.

 To help you determine what solution best fits your needs, your driver rehabilitation specialist will likely have different variations of demo equipment for you to try. If a particular product is not available for you to demo, please contact a Creative Mobility Group showroom so we can facilitate a demonstration for you with your driver rehabilitation specialist.

Person driving vehicle with hand cnotrols and spinner knobHand Controls
Hand controls allow the driver to accelerate and brake using hand movements.
Spinner knob steering device installed on a steering wheelSteering Device
Commonly used with hand controls, a steering device attaches to a vehicle’s steering wheel to provide easier and more comfortable steering.
Veigel MyCommand steering device installed on a steering wheelSecondary Control Modifications
Some drivers may require secondary control modifcations to more easily access functions such as the turn signals or windshield wipers.

Woman entering Toyota Sienna minivan with turn out seatTransfer Aid
A transfer aid, such as BraunAbility® Turny® Evo, can assist with entering and exiting the vehicle independently.
Woman loading mobility scooter with crane-style lift into a minivanScooter Stowage Lift
If the driver utilizes a mobility aid, such as scooter, a stowage lift can assist with transporting it.
Woman on mobility scooter in front of wheelchair accessible Toyota Sienna with ramp deployedWheelchair Accessible Van
If the driver uses a power wheelchair, a wheelchair accessible van may be needed.


Additional Resources for Aging Drivers

The organizations listed below can provide more resources and information for aging drivers. If you’d like more information on driving with adaptive equipment or modifying your vehicle for accessibility, contact The Creative Mobility Group!

Logos for ADED - The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association, NMEDA - The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Assocation, the American Stroke Association, and the American Heart Association