When Should You Stop Driving?

Penny McCrae  |  June 21, 2016
If your loved one is having trouble hearing, it might be time to stop driving.

One of the most difficult questions we face as we grow older is: when does it become unsafe for us to be driving?

Here are a few risk factors that could influence whether or not you should stop getting behind the wheel:

1. Visual impairment
Issues with vision are an obvious risk factor. From reading the speedometer, to being aware that pedestrians are crossing the road, there are many visual factors that go into driving safely. Consider getting an eye test or – if you're already wearing glasses or contact lenses – checking that your prescription is up to date and your lenses are correct – this could be the root of the problem.

Consider taking your loved one to the eye doctor.Consider seeing an optician.

2. Hearing loss
Hearing is another important sense when it comes to driving. If you can't hear horns or an ambulance siren, you could be at risk. Get a hearing test.

"Any form of memory loss is worth checking in with a doctor."

3. Health conditions
Dementia and memory loss can make it difficult, if not impossible, to drive safely. Any form of memory loss is worth checking in with the doctor

4. Extreme fatigue
After a restless night, driving should be the last thing on your mind. Extreme fatigue can result in visual impairment or mental awareness – two things that are necessary for driving safely. Most people over the age of 70 only need about six hours of sleep every night, according the NHS. 

Talking about the problem
Because driving is such a practical part of everyday life, the idea of giving up can be an emotionally charged decision. Talk to family and friends to see if they've noticed any deterioration in driving skills. Very often, the deterioration is gradual and not as obvious to ourselves as it is to others. Talk to your doctor, too, for an impartial assessment of your key cognitive skills.