Positive mobility for older adults, whether as drivers, passengers, and/or users of public transportation, is about maximizing independence and choice in transportation.
Most Americans consider driving a car as a primary means of transportation. It is important to recognize that majority of older adults are safe drivers. They self-regulate when and how they drive in order to remain safe behind the wheel well into the seventh, eighth and ninth decades of life.
A subgroup of older drivers (~10%) are at risk for medical conditions that may impact driver safety. At-risk drivers are those with medical and functional conditions that impact their ability to drive safely and responsibly. Conditions that alter vision, cognition, attention, and/or range of motion are potential risk factors depending on their severity.
Two common conditions that may result in unsafe driving are macular degeneration (an eye disease that distorts central vision) and Alzheimer’s disease (a progressive neurological condition which impacts on memory and thinking). Persons with these conditions often must eventually retire from driving for personal and public safety.
Intervention from family members and others is often necessary to determine when safety concerns reach a critical point.
While most at-risk drivers will respond favorably to such intervention, some may refuse to stop driving. This can be especially challenging for family members. A helpful guide is available through the National Center on Senior Transportation on what to do next.
Another option is to report the at-risk driver. While this may sound extreme, it is often the best option to limit liability and enhance safety. File a report in Missouri.