AARP Driving Resource Center

Warning Signs of Unsafe Driving

Can you tell if someone is no longer safe to drive?

Do you know anyone who has problems driving or who has stopped driving? What led you to think that he or she had a problem driving?

See also: Brain health and driving

The following warning signs can indicate a physical and/or memory problem that is beginning to affect someone’s driving abilities.

Physical Capabilities

  • Not being able to see or hear what is going on outside the car
  • Trouble moving foot from gas pedal to brake pedal
  • Difficulty turning head when backing up
  • Delayed responses to unexpected situations

Cognitive Capabilities

  • Decrease in confidence while driving
  • Needs someone else to tell him or her how to drive
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Becoming easily distracted while driving
  • Getting confused at intersections, entrance or exit ramps, or roundabouts
  • Inability to adapt to new situations
  • Failing to recognize dangerous situations

Poor Driving Skills

  • Not using turn signals correctly or not using them at all
  • Having trouble making turns
  • Having difficulty moving into or maintaining the correct lane of traffic
  • Having trouble judging the space between vehicles in traffic on highway entrance or exit ramps
  • Parking inappropriately
  • Hitting curbs when making right turns or backing up
  • Unpredictable stopping in traffic
  • Driving too slowly; other drivers often honk horns
  • Failing to stop at stop signs or stoplights
  • Failing to notice important activity on the side of the road

Undesirable Behaviors

  • Driving too fast or too slow for road conditions
  • Becoming more agitated or irritated when driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Not following doctor’s guidance
  • Evidence of warning signs
  • Getting scrapes or dents on car, garage or mailbox
  • Having frequent close calls
  • Being warned or ticketed for moving violations
  • Having multiple vehicle crashes

External Advice

  • Doctors or pharmacists have advised him or her that certain medications may affect the capacity to drive
  • Friends, relatives, doctors or other trusted sources have suggested that driving be limited or that driving ceased

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