Older Driver Safety and Transition from Driving

Older driver in the front seat of a car

The personal vehicle remains the most popular transportation mode choice among older adults. Many older Americans remain safe and competent drivers as they age. In 2012, approximately 77% of people age 70 and older were licensed drivers. [1] Among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2012, those age 65 and older had the lowest involvement rate per population as compared to other age groups. [2]

Driving also holds great importance for individuals. It allows for independence, participation in community activities, access to preventative medical appointments, and enjoyment of hobbies. However, as drivers age, certain considerations need to be made about the skills and safety of senior drivers. Driving abilities can decrease because of factors such as age-related vision loss, hearing impairment, poor reflexes, and medical conditions. Family caregivers, and many older adults themselves, have very real concerns about the safety of aging drivers, including the risks to vehicle passengers, other cars on the road, and pedestrians.

NCST recognizes the value and importance of understanding these issues and working to identify resources and successful programs that address older driver safety and transition. The items below review a number of programs and provide materials that promote safe driving for seniors, and can help prepare older adults in the transition from driver to passenger.


NCST Resources

  • NCST Modes and Services Series: CarFit
    This resource is the second edition in the NCST Modes and Services Series. It provides an overview of CarFit, a program that helps older drivers gage how well their personal vehicles "fit" them and provides them with the opportunity to discuss driver safety, mobility, and ways to improve their fit.
  • Hanging Up the Keys? Options When Driving Retirement Becomes a Crisis
    This guide was developed to assist individuals and families in better understanding the current level of risk of an older driver and to direct them to other, more comprehensive resources available. It includes a driving checklist, risk factors to consider, communication and safety tips, and information on alternatives to driving.

  • Older Driver Safety and Transition - for the Aging Network
    NCST has prepared two fact sheets on Older Driver Safety - with an emphasis on driving safely longer. This four-page document targets the provider community.

  • Older Driver Safety and Transition - for the Mature Driver  
    NCST has prepared two fact sheets on Older Driver Safety with an emphasis on driving safely longer. This six-page document speaks directly to the older driver. Service providers may want to order multiple copies to distribute to groups of older adults.


NCST offers learning opportunities in a variety of formats that include webinars, audio conferences, recorded interviews and on-line training. NCST e-Learning related to older driver safety and transition includes:

  • Resources and Tools for Older Driver Safety and Transitioning
    There are a growing number of traffic safety resources and tools aimed at older drivers, their families, and health and medical professionals. This session from the 2010 Lifesavers conference highlighted some of these products and their effectiveness, along with strategies for their use with older drivers.

  • Another Set of Keys: Unlocking the Doors to Mobility Options Beyond Driving This session addressed a range of intervention options relative to community mobility for the medically at-risk older adult who is transitioning from driving to other means of transportation. Targeted to occupational therapists, the audience was introduced to the concept of analyzing daily routines and valued occupations from the standpoint of the mobility requirements inherent in them, and assisting clients in developing a plan for continued community participation.

Best Practices

NCST’s Best Practices series profiles successful models of senior transportation. The following practices are related to older driver safety and transition:

Programs Supported by NCST Grant Funding

  • State Older Driver Safety Coalitions, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Project
    This page provides a summary of the State Older Diver Safety Coalitions projects, through which six states developed a state-level action plan to address older driver safety and mobility options.
  • The Assessment of Readiness for Mobility Transition (ARMT) Tool
    NCST provided seed funding to support the work of Dr. Thomas M. Meuser of the University of Missouri St. Louis and Dr. Marla Berg-Weger of St. Louis University to develop a tool for practitioners to understand a person’s attitude and perspective on transitioning from driving to alternative transportation options. The ARMT tool is a 24-question scale that identifies key attitudes that capture the perspective of older adults facing mobility transitions.

Additional Resources  

[1] Federal Highway Administration. Distribution of Licensed Drivers – 2012. Published January 2014. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2012/dl20.cfm. Retrieved May 12, 2014.

[2] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts 2012 Data. Published March 2014. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812005.pdf. Retrieved May 12,2014.

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