Performance-Based Road Testing, Hazardous Driving & the Elderly Population

Maintaining independence and mobility is a key part of the aging process that many elderly adults focus upon. With the loss of independence or mobility, there is usually a progression or decline in health status as many seniors begin to suffer from secondary psychological complications.

As part of continued independence, it is not uncommon for an elderly person to feel an overwhelming desire and need to hold on to driving privileges. When public safety is a concern, however, it may be necessary for a family member, or physician, to remove the driving privileges of a senior adult.

A common basis for the loss of driving privileges, among the elderly population, involves the loss of cognitive function that can be improved with the help of Disability Aids Australia. However, with any significant change in short term memory, attention, judgment, or visuospatial skills, driving can become quite hazardous. Dementia is a common diagnosis attached to these symptoms. However, in some cases, the senior adult may not suffer from dementia but, instead, simply lose a cognitive function in one of these areas, ultimately becoming a hazardous driver.

With the aging baby boomer population, it is anticipated with will be over 30 million senior drivers on the road by the year 2020. With the loss of driving privileges, the use of caretakers, private transportation companies, and even public transportation will become increasingly more important.

As a family member of a senior, it is important to know the early warning signs of cognitive impairment and impaired driving ability. If you notice your family member has an increase in traffic violations, is driving too fast or too slow, ignores traffic signals and signs, or suddenly appears with minor dents on the vehicle, investigation into impaired cognitive function may be warranted.

Before allowing a physician to order the removal of driving privileges, however, you will want to be certain that your loved one’s cognitive impairments, and unsafe driving, are not associated with medication reactions. Often, when a senior adult is on many medications, this impaired driving ability may be attributed to medications. In addition, ask your physician to allow for a performance-based road test which will allow your loved one an opportunity to take a simple driving test, usually costing less than $500, to ascertain their driving ability and any restrictions that should be applied.

As with any complication involving the potential for loss of mobility and independence, restricting the driving privileges of a senior adult is a process that should be considered carefully. Because the removal of driving privileges is usually a permanent process, before making the decision, be certain the complications are not short term and are absolutely necessary for personal and public safety.