Reasons to Participate in a Driver Evaluation
Normal physical changes with aging can include: difficulty walking or maintaining balance, slowed reaction time, loss of flexibility, or diminished strength. All these challenges may affect skills for controlling a motor vehicle.
90% of all decision making behind the wheel is related to visual processing. Macular degeneration, cataracts, diminished visual acuity, loss of peripheral vision, or impaired depth perception can impact visual processing while driving.
Ongoing Medical Conditions
Conditions such as arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, back or hip pain or other physical challenges limiting range of motion or strength may affect one’s abilities to look behind them when backing, steer, maintain lane position, or apply the gas or brake pedals appropriately.
Stroke patients may have residual effects such as weakness or limited movement of limbs, vision loss, slowed decision making speed, or difficulty processing information. Others may have difficulty communicating (aphasia). As driving requires the ability to multitask physical, visual and cognitive skills simultaneously, individuals recovering from a stroke should seek a professional driver evaluation to determine their readiness to resume driving.
For individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or who are showing signs of cognitive decline or memory loss, a driver evaluation is warranted as driving requires constant judgment and quick decision making behind the wheel.
A Recommendation to Stop Driving Has Been Made
A physician of family member of an aging individual may make a recommendation to cease driving. If the aging driver is unsettled or does not agree with this recommendation a comprehensive driver evaluation by an expert in the field of driver rehabilitation can aid in knowing if driving retirement is the best option.
Family Members Express Concern Regarding Safety
Family members may notice changes in driving skills of an older adult that lead to safety concerns. A comprehensive driver evaluation can provide input regarding how age related changes or medical challenges are impacting safe vehicle control and behind the wheel decision making.