Hospital Resources - Driving

Canada is seeing older drivers well into their 70s and 80s on the road.  Although many are successfully maintaining a healthy, independent lifestyle; there are those for whom driving becomes a risk with age, as physical ability and mental fitness changes.(2)

Why is it important?

  • Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population(3)
  • The leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 65 to 75 years old in Canada today is driving-related accidents(3)
  • Driving is vital to older adult’s independence(3)

Common Causes

  • Depth perception and ability to judge speed deteriorates(2)
  • Visibility at night diminishes and sensitivity to light increases(2)
  • Forms of cognitive impairment can affect the ability to perceive, organize, assimilate, process, plan, learn, judge, etc.(3)
  • Difficulty with mobility, flexibility, motor coordination or grip(3)
  • Medications may increase driving risk (e.g. side effects of drowsiness)(2)

Key Considerations

  • Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, diabetes can impair an individual’s driving ability(1)
  • When appropriate, refer client for formal driving assessment(3)
  • Inform patients about medications that can cause drowsiness/impact driving ability (e.g. some sleep aids, medicine to treat depression, antihistamines for allergies and colds, strong pain-killers, and diabetes medications)(1)
  • If client has not had medical investigations (e.g., neurologist, geriatrician, optometrist/ophthalmologist, audiologist), ensure a referral is made when concern arises(3)
  • Discuss safe driving in future with patient and family members; develop driving retirement plan(3)
  • Provide resources for drivers and family members (e.g. Information for Older Adults brochure from Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists  
    (http://www.olderdriversafety.ca/documents/CAOT%20Eng%20OLDER%20ADULTS.pdf)

References

1.      BCAA. (2014). Older Drivers. Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:   
         http://www.bcaa.com/road-safety/older-drivers/plan-to-stop-driving#tab-/road-safety/older-drivers/
         plan-to-stop-driving/medical-conditions-and-driving


2.      BC Ministry of Justice. (2013). Seniors: Mature Drivers. Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:
         http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/osmv/road-safety/seniors.htm

3.      Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. (2009). Older Drivers in Canada.
         Retrieved March 5, 2014 from:  
         http://www.olderdriversafety.ca/professional/warning_signs/index.html

Additional Resources

         CAOT. (2009). The National Blueprint for Injury Prevention in Older Drivers. Retrieved from:
         http://www.caot.ca/driving/driving.pdf