Driver's license/ID

Should you stop driving?

Retiring from Driving

retiring from driving photo

For many, driving is a rite of passage that provides freedom and independence to get out and about, keep in contact with family and friends, and enables us to maintain our quality of life. One of the best ways of making sure we are able to keep driving for as long as possible is to keep our driving skills and knowledge up to date. As we age, we may experience physical or cognitive changes that affect our driving. It’s important to recognize these changes and utilize resources and advice on how to adapt if your driving is changing as you get older so you can keep driving safely for as long as possible.

The time may come when it is simply no longer possible for you to continue to drive safely, and for your own sake, and the sake of other people on the road, you must stop driving, and consider alternative ways to get where you need to go.

If you carry on driving when you are no longer safe to do so, you are putting yourself and other people (your passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and people in other vehicles) at risk.

Retiring from driving does not have to mean that you will lose your freedom and mobility, as there are many alternatives to driving. If you no longer use your car very much, it may make good financial sense to give it up and use the money you save for other ways of getting around.

Below are some conversation starters, tools, and resources to help you cope with changes in driving, safety, and retiring from driving. We've also included some resources to help loved ones have these sensitive conversations with family members.

COPING WITH CHANGES IN YOUR DRIVING

As we age, we may start to notice changes in our driving ability. Stay ahead by proactively changing when and where you drive to help compensate for these new changes. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some helpful tips and resources you may find useful:

  • Avoid certain driving situations, times and routes (for example, in-town vs. interstate driving) that you find more difficult and stressful. For many, this typically includes avoiding driving:
    • At night
    • During rush hour
    • Through high-volume, busy intersections and routes (including congested areas like school drop-off and pick-up zones)
    • On certain types of roads (for example, interstate and highway driving)
    • During shift changes at local factories or in congested areas
  • Allow more time to get where you need to go, so you can drive safely, at a slightly reduced speed, and not feel rushed.
  • Reduce the amount of driving by using convenient, personalized alternative transportation options like friends or family, public transit, buses, taxis, and more.
  • Consider taking regular driving assessments, refresher training like the AARP Smart Driver Refresher Course, or attending events to help you continue to drive safely, for as long as possible.
  • Learn from your mistakes and near misses. Think about situations you found difficult and what you could have done differently to minimize the likelihood of a re-occurrence.
  • Change or adapt your car to make your driving easier and safer. We’ve made this easier than ever by offering CarFit opportunities throughout the state. CarFit was developed by the American Association on Aging in collaboration with the AARP, American Occupational Therapy Association, and AAA. Program events are designed to provide a quick but comprehensive check of how well you and your vehicle work together. A trained professional will ask you simple questions and complete a 12-point CarFit checklist.
  • Consider whether it’s time to retire from driving. If you travel infrequently, have physical or cognitive changes which are affecting your driving, or travel less than 2,000 miles per year – it is often cheaper and more convenient to use alternative modes of transportation like taxis, bus, or car pool services in your area.
  • My doctor advises me to no longer drive. If your doctor tells you that you should no longer drive, come visit us at one of our driver’s license service centers. We’ll help you surrender your driver’s license and issue you an identification card, free of charge, as well as help you locate alternative transportation resources.

CarFit   CarFit

CarFit was developed by the American Society on Aging in collaboration with AARP, American Occupational Therapy Association, and AAA. Program events are designed to provide a quick but comprehensive check of how well you and your vehicle work together. A trained professional will ask you simple questions and complete a 12-point CarFit checklist. After visiting the trained volunteer professional, the driver will consult with an occupational therapist who, if needed, will discuss ways drivers can maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. The entire process takes about 20 minutes. You leave with recommended car adjustments and adaptations, a list of resources in your area, and a greater peace of mind.

Some of the discussion points during a CarFit event include:

  • Mirror adjustments. Properly adjusting the vehicle’s mirrors can greatly minimize blind spots for drivers when changing lanes.
  • Good foot positioning on the gas and brake pedals. Drivers who reach with their toes to press on the pedals can experience reduced reaction times and fatigue in their legs.
  • Position of the driver in relationship to the steering wheel. Drivers run a risk of serious injury if they are sitting closer than 10 inches to the steering wheel.

As we age, changes in our vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion, and even size and height may make us less comfortable and reduce our control behind the wheel. CarFit provides older adults with the tools to understand and apply the safety features of their vehicles. Having a car that “fits” the older driver is key. While older drivers are often considered safer drivers because they're more likely to wear seatbelts and less likely to speed or drink and drive, they are more likely to be seriously injured in a crash because their bodies are more fragile. Older drivers can improve their safety by ensuring their cars are properly adjusted for them. A proper fit in one's car can greatly increase not only the driver's safety but also the safety of others.

Driver & Identification Services supports CarFit by providing trained technicians and assistance in hosting CarFit checkups throughout the state. Check the CarFit website at www.car-fit.org for an event in your community, or contact Driver & Identification Services at 515-244-8725 or email Driver.Services@iowadot.us to schedule an event.

Driver resources  Driver resources

Below you will find useful information provided by The Hartford to help you or a loved one have those sensitive conversations about changes in driving, safety, and retiring from driving: