Requirements will vary from state to state, but each state has a different renewal cycle for elderly drivers. Other requirements include recurring vision tests during each license renewal, mandatory in-person renewals, and other provisions.
Over time, there are health conditions that change the way we do things such as driving. Everybody ages differently, but at some point in time, our bodies will change. The following are some of the most common effects aging has on elderly drivers.
As we age, our vision changes in different ways. It is normal when it is difficult to focus vision up close, distinguish colors, and adjust to dim lighting. Conditions that are not a normal part of aging, but are higher at risk for include, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
Each of the conditions mentioned above will have an impact on your ability to see people, other vehicles, and movement while driving. Delayed reading of street signs or traffic signs and difficulty seeing at night may cause an accident as well.
To stay on top of your health and continue driving safely, be sure to get your eyes checked annually. You will also want to keep your glasses or contact lenses prescription up to date and reduce the amount of driving at night.
Age-related hearing loss is another symptom of aging that can affect driving. This is one of the most common conditions that older adults deal with. According to the NIDCD, one in three adults in the U.S. aged 65 to 74 have hearing loss and 50% of adults older than 75 have a hard time hearing.
When your hearing is affected, warning sounds like horns, sirens, and noises from your car will be difficult to notice. To be a safe driver, go in for a hearing checkup at least every 3 years and discuss hearing concerns with your doctor.
Motor skills will decrease with age, specifically the stiffening of joints and muscles. A common condition among older adults, arthritis, makes it difficult to apply the gas or brake and control the steering wheel.
If you are experiencing any kind of pain or stiffness, see your doctor. Cars nowadays have features that help with these conditions such as power steering, power brakes, and large mirrors. To ensure that you are still able to drive, maintain your physical activity by exercising and stretching frequently.
Cognitive reaction time decreases as people age. With the amount of distractions out on the road, it is important to be able to react quickly to avoid accidents as they arise.
With a slower reaction time in mind, be sure to allow more space between your vehicle and the car in front of you. Additionally, brake early when coming to a stop, avoid traffic and rush hour, and drive in the slow lane.
Evaluating your driving skills to ensure you are keeping yourself and others safe is important and should be done regularly.
One way to do this is to see your doctor to get an opinion on your physical and mental standing. They should be able to let you know of any impairments that will affect your driving capabilities.
Also, AAA has put together a self-rating driving assessment exercise to help you drive as long as safely possible. You simply answer the questions lined out in the booklet as honestly as possible and compute your score at the end.
For a professional evaluation, the The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a national database of driving programs and specialists that can assess your driving abilities.
In the case that you are unable to drive, there are a number of transportation options for older drivers. You don’t have to lose your independence because you are unable to drive yourself. Additional transportation modes can be more affordable and efficient. These include:
If you have assessed your driving skills and are still able to drive, check out our free driving tests to help you pass the official DMV written exam.