How Old is Too Old to Drive?

Posted on: October 2nd, 2012 by Lawrence A. Friedman

Of course, it’s a “trick question.”  There is no bright age line between those who should and shouldn’t be driving.  As we all know, many factors beyond age influence whether an individual should drive.  As a car or other motor vehicle is a lethal weapon that can harm both the driver and others, nobody whether age 20 or 80 should drive unless he/she has the ability to handle the vehicle safely and is reasonably rested, alert, and attentive.  However, there is no basis to preclude an individual from driving merely because he/she has reached a particular age.   Nevertheless, since reflexes, vision, and acute hearing naturally decline when we age, it’s not surprising that we may need to change our driving habits as we age.  Fortunately, the federal government has studied this question in detail and produced a helpful and informative tool.

A new online resource from the National Institute of Health, (NIH) National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can help older drivers and their families address this often sensitive topic. The Older Drivers webpage addresses ways in which aging affects driving–such as physical and cognitive changes, and changes in driving habits. Also discussed are common driving errors that seniors make, ways to avoid such mistakes, and general information on preventing accidents.  This thorough resource provides tips for safe driving as well as important safety features to look for in vehicles. It reviews the regulations many states have adopted to keep older drivers and those around them safe on the road. Finally, the Older Drivers webpage offers suggestions for how to assess when an older driver’s skills change, information on refresher courses, and alternative ways to get around when driving is no longer an option. Check out this valuable new resource at NIH’s website

A big thankyou to FriedmanLaw’s paralegal Nancy Hochenberger for contributing to this article.

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Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.