Older Drivers

Frequently Asked Questions

21. What are some ways to improve my driving?

If you find that your driving skills have declined, it may be time to make some changes. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the car keys. You might just need to change your driving habits.

  • Many older drivers “self-regulate.” This means they think about when it is easiest and hardest to drive, then make adjustments. For example, they may
    • avoid driving in bad weather like rain or snow
    • limit trips to places that are easy to get to and close to home
    • take roads that will avoid risky spots like ramps and left turns
    • use highways when there is less traffic
    • avoid driving if they are stressed or tired.
  • Defensive driving classes help lots of older adults brush up on their driving skills. These classes can help older people feel more confident behind the wheel. A bonus: many auto insurers give premium discounts to people who complete driver-safety classes.
  • Consider driving refresher courses. Driving laws and techniques have changed since you first learned to drive. Driving refresher courses, taken online or in the classroom, teach participants about current traffic laws and driving skills that take into account age-related changes in vision, hearing, and other abilities. Training may last from 2 to 10 hours, depending on the sponsoring organization and format. Cost varies. To find out about driver’s education programs for older adults, check online under "driving courses for older adults," or search the yellow pages under “driving schools.”
  • Physical conditioning has been shown to help improve driver performance. According to one study, 12 weeks of exercises improved older drivers’ flexibility, coordination, and speed and reduced their driving errors. For information on exercise and older adults, see Health Benefits of Exercise. Or visit Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign for older adults from the National Institute on Aging.