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Healthy Aging and Driving

Driving safety for older adults

Getting older brings many changes. It can change your vision, hearing, reflexes, and other things about your body. You may also need certain medicines to manage your health as you age.

These changes put you at higher risk of a motor vehicle crash when you drive. Research shows that older drivers are more likely to be seriously hurt or die in a motor vehicle crash.

To lower the risk of hurting yourself or others when you drive:

  • Always wear your seatbelt and adjust your headrest.
  • Make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt.
  • Know how you're changing and what your limits are.
  • Take care of yourself and be active.

Here are some more tips to help keep yourself and others safe when you drive.

Stay focused

When you drive, concentrate only on driving and don't get distracted:

  • Watch the road and the traffic around you.
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  • Don't use any handheld devices (such as a smart phone or tablet).
  • Don't talk on the phone, even with a hands-free device.

If it's hard to concentrate on driving (for example, you're very tired), pull over and take a break until you feel better.

Drive sober

If you're been drinking alcohol or using cannabis or other drugs, don't drive.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of your medicines might affect your driving.

If you're not alert enough to drive, get help to get home safely. Call a friend, family member, cab, or ride-share to take you home.

Follow the speed limit 

Speeding is a factor in 1 in 4 fatal crashes in Canada. Speed and aggressive driving often go together.

Follow speed limits. Be patient when you drive through an area with a lower limit, such as a school zone or residential area. Following these speed limits can save a life.

Plan your driving trips 

For everyone's safety, think about planning how, when, and where you drive:

  • Choose routes that you know well.
  • Drive shorter distances, less often, and slower.
  • Plan your drive ahead of time.
  • Drive less at night, during rush hour, and in the winter.
  • Don't drive when the conditions are bad, such as heavy rain, lots of snow, or slippery roads.

Learn more 

For more driving safety tips, you can take a driver education or refresher course for older adults.

Contact the Canada Safety Council or the Alberta Motor Association for more information. 

Current as of: December 17, 2021

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services

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