By Stacy Alcide, RN, Certified Aging Life Care Manager

As our family members age, it is essential to prioritize their well-being, especially regarding their ability to drive safely.

Difficult decisions such as taking away senior driver motor vehicle privileges are faced frequently by many families. The issue of elderly drivers and their ability to safely operate vehicles is a sensitive topic that requires careful consideration.

Safety Concerns

We all recognize that physical and cognitive abilities can decline with older drivers, affecting a person’s driving skills. Vision impairment, slower reflexes, reduced mobility, and cognitive impairments can all impact an individual’s ability to navigate the roads safely. It becomes crucial to assess their capabilities and consider their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Signs to Look For:

  • Frequent accidents or close calls
  • Fear related to driving
  • Cognitive declines, such as getting lost in familiar areas
  • Decreased physical mobility
  • Medication side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness
  • Specific diagnoses such as cataracts, dementia, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis,
  • Parkinson’s, seizures, and stroke

Approaching the Conversation

Most likely, the hardest step in the process is approaching the conversation. Taking away a driver’s license and car keys can be emotionally challenging for mature drivers and their families. It’s essential to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Sharing concerns, presenting alternatives, and involving multiple family members or trusted individuals in the discussion can help ease the transition. At The Option Group, we rely on the experts’ opinions as often as possible to remove some of the pressure families may feel. This can include completing specific driving evaluations or assessments.

Healthcare Professionals Role

Doctors, occupational therapists, and geriatric care managers are essential in assessing an individual’s fitness to drive. These professionals can objectively evaluate medical conditions, medication side effects, cognitive impairments, and overall physical well-being. All are important factors used to determine if driving restrictions are necessary. 

Alternate Transportation Options

Affordable and accessible transportation is a significant barrier for our loved ones. Maryland offers alternate transportation options for older adults to ensure they have access to essential services. The Maryland Department on Aging is the best resource to contact for low-cost options for seniors. Local senior centers can also be able to provide more information.

Reporting Concerns

The Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles (MVA), as well as other states, accepts referrals from healthcare professionals and concerned private citizens (neighbors, friends, and family) of drivers with potential problems regarding their ability to drive. A letter of concern should be submitted via email or fax.  In Maryland, reach out to the MVA at:

​​Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration
Driver Wellness and Safety Division
6601 Ritchie Highway
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
Phone: 410-768-7513

Other Resources

  • The Maryland Department of Transportation and the Older Driver Safety Forum offers the following Resource Guide to aid older drivers. Click here now https://mva.maryland.gov/Documents/MD-Resource-Guide-for-Aging-Drivers2.pdf.
  • Self-Assessments can be found at the American Automobile Association (AAA).
  • Professional assessments can also be completed through AAA and local Maryland Area Driver Rehabilitation Programs.

If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our professional care management team for assistance.

About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 / 215-896-6756 (PA) or 302-858-6449 (DE).