The Issue of Aging and Driving
Everyone ages differently, however, the older we are, the risks behind the wheel increase — with the possibility of declining cognitive, vision and physical abilities. Older drivers in general are safe — drivers age 65 and older made up 20 percent of all licensed drivers in 2019, but were involved in only 16 percent of all crashes.
- From 2015-2019, only 11 percent of elderly drivers killed were known to be drinking. For drivers 21 – 34-years-old in the same time frame, it was 45 percent.
- Aging motor vehicle drivers 65 and older wear their seat belts more often than younger drivers. Drivers in that age group who died in crashes buckled up 71 percent of the time (2015 – 2019). Among drivers aged 21-34 who were killed, only 47 percent were wearing a seat belt.
Older Drivers Face Challenges
Senior citizens are more likely to get killed or injured because they are medically fragile and less able to recover from injuries. In fact, about one out of every four traffic fatalities in Minnesota is a person 65 or older.
Intersections can cause an elderly driver trouble, especially when gauging the speed of traffic on the lanes they will cross.
We all age differently. By the age of 85 nearly all of us will see significant changes in our vision and physical abilities.
More than 80 percent of senior citizen-involved crashes occur between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Their crash involvement is largely a daylight occurrence.
Aging Driver Publication Inserted in Twin Cities Business Magazine
The July 2015 issue of Twin Cities Business Magazine will include an aging driver publication to raise awareness and provide resources for aging drivers and their families. Entitled “A Roadmap for Driving Later in Life”, this publication provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities associated with the increase in aging drivers across Minnesota. Limited copies of the insert can be ordered through Educational Materials.
Addressing Driving Problems with Older Family Members
Most older drivers self-regulate fairly well — they voluntarily stop driving at night, in urban areas, or far from home.
This can be a sensitive issue for many older drivers; driving cessation is difficult at best. Older drivers forced to stop driving will likely feel a lack of freedom and may suffer from depression.
Actions to Take if Concerned about an Older Family Member's Driving:
1 . Complete the Request for Examination of Driver form or write and sign a letter to Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) outlining specific concerns. If you are related to the driver, your statement is confidential, and the evaluator will not reveal your identify, unless ordered to do so by court of law.
Your request must be in writing and include the following information:
Full name and date of birth of the at-risk driver; including the individual's driver's license number if it is available.
Description of the condition and explanation of why you believe the person to be an at-risk driver.
Your name, address and phone number.
The request can be uploaded to DVS through the eServices webpage under the form submissions section. Select "upload miscellaneous forms" followed by "request for driver examination" and follow the prompts. The request can also be mailed to:
Driver and Vehicle Services
Attn: Medical Unit
445 Minnesota Street Suite 170
St. Paul, MN 55101-5170
2. DVS will write the person and ask them to come in for an interview.
Based on the interview, the person can be requested to conduct a written and road test; submit a vision report; and/or submit a doctor’s statement verifying that they are physically qualified to drive within 30 days of the interview.
If no concerns arise during the interview — if the driver passes a road quiz and appears to be physically fine — they may not be required to do anything further to continue to drive.
If the person does not submit the requested statements or their vision/physical report is unsatisfactory, their driver’s license can be cancelled.
If the person is unable to pass the tests within the required time, their driver’s license is cancelled.
3. Law enforcement officers also can send a request for review to DVS if they identify a driver who they believe should either re-test or be checked by a doctor. Law enforcement officers also can send a request for review to DVS if they identify a driver who they believe should either re-test or be checked by a doctor.
4. Talk to a family member's physician to see if the doctor has noticed the same problems.. Talk to a family member's physician to see if the doctor has noticed the same problems. If so, ask the doctor to submit a request for a written/road test to DVS. If the physician sees the person is not physically qualified to drive, the doctor can notify the department to that effect and DVS can cancel the driver’s privileges.
5. DVS can allow the person to keep driving with increased limitations such as roadway speed, daylight only, certain times of the day or within a set limit of miles from his or her home. They can also require follow-up doctors exams.
Additional information about at-risk drivers is available on the DVS website.