Driver's license/ID

Plan Ahead: 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 interactions 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 ods@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:




CONCERNED FOR A LOVED ONE’S SAFETY WHEN DRIVING?

HOW TO HELP AN AGING LOVED ONE KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO RETIRE FROM DRIVING

Retiring from driving may be one of the most challenging moments in your aging loved one’s life. Is it time to stop driving? How will I know? Ideally, this is a conversation that has been happening over time, but if that’s not the case, don’t panic – we’re here to help you throughout this transition.

When a parent or loved one is no longer able to safely drive, there is a readjustment period and time of grief. Many things have changed that have led up to this moment; and for many, it is a signal of loss. We realize having this conversation with your parent or loved one is sensitive and difficult. Rather than talking only about the negative, focus on your loved one’s transition and actively plan for ways they can maintain as much freedom, control, and choice in their lives as possible.

Talk about why retiring from driving is so important. As aging drivers and vehicle crash fatality rates continue to be some of the highest, discuss how continuing to drive may mean life or death. As we age, it becomes more difficult to recover from physical trauma like car crashes.  Our mental, physical, visual, and reaction times also change. If your loved one is having difficulty with the transition to retire from driving, consider speaking with a professional (start with a family physician or healthcare provider) who can help evaluate not only their driving but also mental and physical abilities.

Below is information to help you identify what phase of transitioning from driving you and your loved one face, and resources to help guide these conversations.

Understand the 5 Stages of the Retiring from Driving Conversations

  1. The Driving Conversations – Ideally, you’ve begun having these conversations before any issues are present. Talk about your vision and concerns for the future and be an advocate of your parent and loved one
  2. The First Signs of Change – Look for changes in driving behavior and utilize self-assessment tools. Continue to provide support and let them know their safety, mobility, and independence is your priority.
  3. The Warning Signs – Learn the signals that are more serious concerns, when to seek advice from a medical professional, referrals to driving rehabilitation specialists, and what adaptive devices for vehicles may benefit your loved one.
  4. When It’s Time to Retire from Driving – Know the critical questions to ask and what methods can help ease the transition. Learn what alternative approaches are available if retiring from driving will not be voluntary.
  5. Preserving Independence after Retiring from Driving – Plan for their future and consider alternative modes of transportation to maintain their highest level of freedom and independence.

Frequently asked questions

arrow   I’M CONCERNED ABOUT A FAMILY MEMBER, NEIGHBOR, OR FRIEND WHO MAY BE UNSAFE TO DRIVE. HOW CAN I LET YOU KNOW OF MY CONCERNS?

If you’re concerned and have tried talking to your family member or friend, you can submit a signed, written request for an evaluation of a driver suspected to have a physical, mental, or visual impairment, regardless of age. Our Driver & Identification Services team reviews all requests and determines the appropriate course of action. This may include medical or visual evaluation to be completed by a healthcare professional or required testing. Form 431030 can be submitted to request a re-examination for a friend or loved one. The minimum required information (healthcare professionals or law enforcement may submit additional information) you’ll need to include on the request is:

  • Individual’s full name, address, driver’s license number, and date of birth
  • Reason for the re-examination must be given. Include a summary (age alone not considered)
  • Your signature, name, address, and date of submission

For concerned family members, you can also speak directly with their healthcare provider or contact law enforcement with your concerns.

arrow  WHO CAN REQUEST OR REPORT CONCERN FOR AN UNSAFE DRIVER?

Anyone, including yourself, a healthcare professional, or even law enforcement, can request a re-examination if concerned about someone else’s ability to drive safely due to a physical, cognitive, or vision-related condition. To request a re-examination you’ll need to submit a signed, written request for evaluation (Form 431030) and submit to us for review. The minimum required information (healthcare professionals or law enforcement may submit additional information) you’ll need to include on the request is:

  • Individual’s full name, address, driver’s license number, and date of birth
  • Reason for the re-examination must be given. Include a summary (age alone not considered)
  • Your signature, name, address, and date of submission

arrow  IF I REPORT SOMEONE AS UNSAFE TO DRIVE, WILL THEY KNOW?

If you submit a request for re-examination, the person named in the request is entitled and can request to know the name and address of the individual who signed and submitted the request for re-examination.

arrow  CAN I REPORT AN UNSAFE DRIVER BY PHONE?

We cannot accept reports of unsafe drivers by phone. We must receive a signed, written request for re-examination (Form 431030) In the event of an emergency, immediate reporting may be completed by contacting your local law enforcement or dialing 911.

arrow  CAN A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL REQUEST A DRIVING ASSESSMENT OR EVALUATION FOR PHYSICAL, COGNITIVE, OR VISION-RELATED REASONS?

Yes. A healthcare professional can request a driving assessment or evaluation if they are concerned with someone’s ability to drive safely due to a physical, cognitive, or vision-related reason. Contact us by phone 515-244-8725 or email ods@iowadot.us if you have questions.