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 16 percent of all licensed drivers in 2009, but were involved in 8 percent of all crashes.
Older drivers are more likely to get killed or injured because they are more likely to be physically fragile and less able to recover from injuries. In fact, one out of every five traffic fatalities in Minnesota is a person age 65 or older.
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 .Write and sign a letter to Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) outlining specific concerns.
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.