Skycast X

Info for Older Adults

The ability to drive helps older adults keep their independence and connected to the community. Understanding and adjusting to their changing abilities and needs by taking driver safety classes and improving the safety of the car they're driving may help an older adult continue to drive safely and maintain that sense of independence. 
 
Here are a few common questions asked by older adults:
 

Am I safe to drive?

Everyone has a desire to maintain their independence as they grow older. For most people — especially in the Kansas City region — their independence is linked to their car. Drivers who use smart self-management to review their driving skills can retain their independence longer, while limiting risks to themselves and others. The information on this website is designed to provide older drivers, family, caregivers, and the professionals who work with them, information and resources to keep older driver safely on the road.
 

How will I know when driving is no longer a safe option?

The decision to stop driving is never an easy one; the key for a positive transition from driving is to plan ahead. Driving skills may deteriorate slowly -- making it difficult to assess one's ability to continue driving. Self-awareness is important to safe driving. The self-assessment below was adapted from the Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers (published by the American Medical Association) and can help you decide if you should have your driving abilities evaluated.
 
Do any of these statements apply to you?
  • I get lost while driving. 
  • My friends or family members say they are worried about my driving. 
  • Other cars seem to appear from nowhere. 
  • I have trouble finding and reading signs in time to respond to them. 
  • Other drivers drive too fast. 
  • Other drivers often honk at me. 
  • I feel uncomfortable, nervous or fearful while driving. 
  • After driving, I feel tired. 
  • I feel sleepy when I drive. 
  • I have had some "near-misses" lately. 
  • Busy intersections bother me. 
  • Left-hand turns make me nervous. 
  • The glare from oncoming headlights bothers me. 
  • My medication makes me dizzy or drowsy. 
  • I have trouble turning the steering wheel. 
  • I have trouble pushing down the foot pedal. 
  • I have trouble looking over my shoulder when I back up. 
  • I have been stopped by the police for my driving. 
  • People will no longer accept rides from me. 
  • I have difficulty backing up. 
  • I have had crashes that were my fault in the past year. 
  • I am too cautious when driving. 
  • I sometimes forget to use my mirrors or signals. 
  • I sometimes forget to check for oncoming traffic. 
  • I have more trouble parking lately.
If any of these items apply to you, your safety may be at risk when you drive. Talk with your doctor about concentration or memory problems, or other physical symptoms that can lessen driving ability.
 
If you notice one or more of these warning signs you may want to have your driving assessed by a driver rehabilitation specialist, or attend a driver refresher class.
 

What are some self-regulation tips to help me drive safely?

Many older drivers self-restrict their driving to avoid risky situations. Some common strategies include:
  • Drive only during the daylight if you have trouble seeing at night. 
  • Drive only during good weather conditions. 
  • Avoid fast-paced highway driving. 
  • Avoid driving in unfamiliar places. 
  • If left turns are a problem or make you nervous, make three right hand turns, make left turns at traffic lights with a turn arrow, or pick a less busy intersection for your turn. 
  • Map out safe routes, such as those with well-lit streets, less traffic, left turns with left-turn arrows, clear signs and easy parking. 
  • Drive with a friend. 
  • Let someone else drive when you are uncomfortable with it.

What are the resources available to help me to continue to drive safely as I age?

A car's amenities can make a big difference in safe driving. Some older adult drivers choose to buy a car that will fit their needs better as they age, or they may choose to install equipment in their current car to help improve their driving. If you are thinking of investing in a new car, here is a list of safety features to look for. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also offers information on which vehicles are the safest.
 
There are also ways to adjust a car to better fit the needs of an older driver, such as adding a seat-back cushion to improve the driver's view or hand controls for those with limited mobility. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has resources on how to adapt a vehicle for safer driving. You can find that information here.
 
For more information on how to adjust a car for the changing needs of an older driver, CarFit is an educational program that shows older adult drivers how to check the "fit" of their vehicle. This program also provides information and materials to enhance their safety as drivers and increase their mobility. The CarFit website offers videos that explain how to make necessary adjustments. CarFit also offers events where trained technicians work with an individual to fit their vehicle properly for maximum comfort and safety. A CarFit check takes approximately 20 minutes. For more information or to find a CarFit event in your area, please visit the CarFit website
 
To help improve driving skills, the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City's Senior Services program offers individual driving evaluations, vision evaluations and treatment for vision deficits, as well as many other services that may help improve driving skills and quality of life. For more information on the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City, please visit their website here.
 
Roadwise Review Online is a FREE screening tool developed by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to help seniors measure certain mental and physical abilities important for safe driving. In as little as 30 minutes, you can identify and get further guidance on the physical and mental skills that need improvement.
 

What are my options when I am no longer able to drive safely?

Those of us who drive want to continue driving as long as we can safely do so. But for many of us, the time will come when we must limit or stop driving for our safety -- and for the safety of others. Consideration should be given to the transportation options available in the area where you live or plan to retire. Learn about your transportation options now, create a transportation plan, and try them out. Options available in the Kansas City region include public transportation, para-transit, senior shuttles, walking, friends and family, taxis, volunteer driver programs, etc.
 
The options for non-drivers in Kansas City depend on the specific destination or time constraint. Kansas City, Mo., Independence, Mo., the Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County, Kan., and Johnson County, Kan., provide bus services that cover much of the Kansas City region, but times and destinations may be limited. The bus services offer assistance for disabled individuals, as well as discounted bus passes for those 65 and older. For information on regional bus services, click one of the links below.
There are several alternatives to driving in Kansas City that were specifically created for older adults and non-drivers. Link for Care is a website that helps individuals find services including transportation, health care, food services, care giving and more. The resources at the Link for Care website can be searched by city or by neighborhood. 
 

How do I know if my medications are affecting my driving?

Medications can make driving risky for seniors:
  • Drugs can stay in the older body for a longer period of time.* 
  • Seniors may be more sensitive to the effects of medication on their judgment and ability to react .* 
  • Older Americans often take more than one medication. 
  • Sometimes a combination of medications increases the effects of each drug on the body.*
* Source: National Institute on Aging 
Some of the medications that make driving risky include:
  • Blood pressure medicines 
  • Anxiety medicines 
  • Sleeping pills  
  • Antidepressants 
  • Muscle relaxers  
  • Seizure medicines 
  • Pain medicines 
  • Diabetes management
Talk to your doctor about how these affect driving.
 
Roadwise RX is a free, confidential online tool developed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that adults can use to explore how medications may affect safety behind the wheel. 
 

Do I need to report someone that I think is unfit to drive? If so, to whom do I report it?

According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, if you think an individual is unfit to drive, you should submit a Driver Condition Report (Form 4319). After completing this form, you must mail it to the Missouri Department of Revenue. In this report, you must identify the driver with name, date of birth, driver's license number, current address and license plate number for the vehicle being operated. You must also provide as many details as possible as to how the driver is unsafe, as well as the condition of the driver. To access the form, please visit the Missouri Department of Revenue's website.
 
To report an unsafe driver in Kansas, please call the Kansas Department of Revenue at 785-296-3601 to make an official report. To make an accurate report, you'll need information on both the driver and the car. Please visit the Kansas Department of Revenue website for more information on driving safety.
 
For other information on reporting unsafe drivers, please click here.
 
If you have decided that you are no longer safe to drive, you may self-report at your local exam station or by contacting the medical/vision section of the Division of Vehicles at 785-368-8971 or coomedical.review@kdor.ks.gov. (Kansas only.)

If it's time for you or someone you know to stop driving, consider donating your car. Here are some resources to help: Or find more by Googling "donate car in Kansas City."