Jan 15, 2015 6:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Remember the feeling of freedom that came when you first earned your driver’s license? Most people take that feeling for granted for decades until they “retire” from driving. 

For every mile driven, elderly drivers—especially those 75 and older—pose a higher risk for being involved in a collision, according to the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence. The risk is about equal to that of drivers 16 to 24, the center says.

It’s typically a loved one who first notices a decline in the cognitive and physical abilities of an older family member. Whether a person should retire from driving is a sensitive topic and often met with resistance. The elderly person may feel like a burden, depending on others for transportation. Or the person may worry about fewer social opportunities without the independence that driving brings.

But the safety of your aging loved one and others should be the focus. Here’s how you can help: Download this checklist and ask your elderly loved ones to complete it. It reveals some of the warning signs that the person may be at risk.

Next, get an unbiased third party involved, such as a doctor or a driving evaluation service, like the one offered at University of Utah Health's Sugar House Rehabilitation Clinic. This removes the emotional aspect of the situation and eliminates a lot of hard feelings.  

“We complete a series of assessments, including vision, range of motion, coordination and reaction time, then conduct a road test,” says Marc Rosello, a licensed occupational therapist and driving rehabilitation specialist who has been running the program at the clinic for 16 years. “The overall results help us provide recommendations to the elderly person and their family.” 

The clinic is not affiliated with a driving school or connected to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, so it’s up to the individual and family to determine whether they want to implement the clinic’s recommendations.

The cost for a two-hour evaluation and driving assessment is $175. Medicare does not typically cover it. To make an appointment, call 801-581-2221

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