At What Age Should My Parents Stop Driving?

Because everyone is different and ages differently, there is no one answer to this question. Studies show that older drivers are safer drivers than those age 16 – 19. After a driver reaches 75 years of age, their crash rate per mile driven and fatality rate increases.

The number of drivers 70 years of age and older involved in fatal crashes rose 27% between 1991 and 2001 compared with an overall rate of less than 1% during the same time period.

North Carolina and Tennessee review driver’s licenses every 5 years. Applicant must pass vision and possibly road sign tests. Examiners are trained to notice persons who seem confused or unsteady and can administer driving exams on the spot or refer the individual to Medical Review or Driver Safety program of Department of Motor Vehicles. A family physician, family member, police officer, or other concerned party may also refer an individual to the medical review program to see if restrictions should be made. This should be done in writing and mailed to the following:

NC Department of Motor Vehicles                                         Tennessee Department of Safety
Attn: Medical Review                                                              Driver Improvement Section
3112 Mail Service Center                                                       1150 Foster Avenue
 Raleigh, NC 27699                                                                Nashville, TN 37210

Many drivers begin imposing restrictions on themselves to begin with. It is not uncommon for people to stop driving after dark, to drive vehicles equipped with adaptive devices or equipment, to avoid busy interstates, to travel only in familiar routes, etc.

Several recommendations if you are unsure or live at a distance include:

  • When visiting, have your loved one drive to the grocery store, doctor’s appointment and ride with them.
  • Check out CarFit to see if there is an event near you or your loved one. CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them
  • AOTA Tips to consider when dealing with older drivers.
  • AARP has an 8 hour refresher course for older drivers.
  • State of Tennessee has this veru helpful booklet for Caregivers on Driver Safety for Tennessee Seniors.
  • To learn what your state requires of older drivers, visit the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • The American Medical Association has released new guidelines to help doctors assess who should no longer be driving.
  • AARP has a self assessment tool “Creating Mobility Choices” and can be ordered from them by calling (800) 424-3410.
  • “The Older and Wiser Driver” contains self-assessment tools were developed in 1996 by the Foundation for Traffic Safety of the American Automobile Association (AAA). Also available is a self-assessment quiz titled “Drivers 55 Plus: Test Your Own Safety Performance. For family members and professionals concerned about an older drivers capacity there is also a 34 page booklet “How to Help an Older Driver.”
  • The Foundation for Traffic Safety has also launched a website with audio and video driver safety topics.