Medical Careers in Aging: Resources for Working with Older Drivers

Female doctor speaking with older woman patient

Doctors, healthcare professionals, and other professionals working with older adults know the importance of having the conversation around driving and assessing older adults to ensure they’re safer on the road, but that doesn’t make it any easier. You’ve chosen to devote your life to helping older adults improve their health as they age, and we have resources to support your efforts when it comes to driving and planning for changes in transportation.

Assessing Fitness to Drive

  • Take advantage of the comprehensive Clinical Assessment of Driving Related Skills (CADReS), a toolbox of practical, evidence-based, office-based assessment tools to screen for impairment in the key areas of vision, cognition, and motor/sensory function relating to driving.
  • Consult the Clinician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers (4th Edition), which translates research findings and public health initiatives into real-world, person-centered advice designed to help you make assessments and counsel older adults on their fitness to drive to improve their road safety. 
  • The guide has recommendations, tools, and resources for use across healthcare settings, including: 
    • office-based tests, 
    • guidance on legal and ethical concerns with state-specific agencies to contact, and 
    • support for challenging driving-related conversations with your older driver patients.
  • Refer patients for further testing and assessment with a driver rehabilitation specialist (DRS). A DRS typically conducts a comprehensive driving evaluation, including both clinical tests (e.g., vision, motor, and cognitive tests) and an on-the-road driving assessment. Their evaluations may result in adapting the older adult’s driving habits, modifying their car with assistive technology, or exploring other transportation options.

Having the Conversation

  • Ask simple questions, such as “did you drive here today” and “are you having any challenges driving that we could address today?” Making driving a routine topic in an older patients’ annual wellness visits and other routine meetings/interactions paves the way for later discussions about safe driving and cessation.
  • “Older drivers are open to engaging in a conversation about driving if it is framed as a discussion about promoting the patient's safety or is presented as a routine part of the health visit.” Read more best practices for having the conversation with older patients from the American Academy of Family Physicians

Making a Plan

  • Help older adults develop a plan with the the Older Driver Transportation Planning Tool. By using the tool, older adults answer a short questionnaire that creates a personalized transportation plan based on their answers. The plan includes a customized list of details, resources, and links.
  • Integrate driver safety into office visits. Medical professionals are uniquely positioned to discuss driving safety concerns with older patients because they are familiar with their patient's medical conditions and medications.

Continuing Education