Age alone is not a good indicator of driving ability. The best indicator of driving skills and abilities is the performance of the driver on the highway.
Just because someone is getting older doesn’t mean they have to give up the privilege of driving. The key is to take steps that assure that safety is first and foremost. There are a number of measures older adults can take that will increase their self sufficiency and ability to drive safely well into the future. Numerous resources are available that can assist an individual or family member who has concerns or questions about a person’s driving ability.
Driving a vehicle requires the coordination of a range of complex skills that can diminish as we age. Reduced vision and hearing abilities, slowdowns in reaction time, and limitations in a person’s range of motion are some of the changes that accompany the aging process. Older drivers often recognize these physical and mental changes and make adjustments in their driving to compensate for these limitations. While the vast majority of older drivers are operating their vehicles in a safe manner, there are those individuals who continue to drive when they are at risk due to physical and cognitive impairments.
If you are concerned about yours or the driving of someone who is close to you the University of Michigan’s Driving Decisions Workbook is an excellent tool for a self-evaluation strategy. There are also a number of assessment tools, such as the Driving Safety and Medical & Behavioral Checklists in the When You Are Concerned - A handbook for families concerned about the safety of an older driver that can help.
One way to get an objective opinion about someone's driving is to consult a driver evaluation and rehabilitation program or a driving school (see the driver evaluation programs below).
NYS DMV’s Re-evaluation of Driver Skills and Abilities - For the benefit of highway safety, the NYS DMV can require an evaluation of a driver whose skills and abilities are in doubt. The DMV will examine reliably reported information to determine if a driver needs to be re-evaluated.
Automatic retesting is triggered when a driver has three accidents within an 18-month period, regardless of fault (except if a car is hit and the driver is not in it) to make sure the driver is doing everything possible to avoid an accident.
Usually a NYS Department of Motor Vehicles’ evaluation is triggered by information received by the department that someone has observed something unsafe (e.g., unable to stay in own lane, driving too slowly for conditions, stopping without reason.) 85% of the time the information is received from police officers, for example observing someone driving the wrong way on an expressway. Police officers use a form, DS-5 to report concerns to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Another source of referral is an agency involved with a client who is observed to have a driving problem.
Evaluations required by the Department of Motor Vehicles in theBuffalo area are usually conducted through:
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles
Testing & Investigation Unit,
Buffalo District Office:
295 Main St, Suite 394,
(716) 851 8234
Driver Evaluation Programs
Driver Rehabilitation Services, DeGraff Hospital
PO Box 750
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
For Information or to make a referral call: (716) 690-2386
Services: Driver evaluation, training, equipment evaluation assessments, vehicle consultation
Erie County Medical Center, Driver Evaluation Program
462 Grider St
Buffalo, NY 14215
To make an appointment, or for more information call: (716) 898-3225.
Services: Comprehensive rehabilitation program, driver evaluation program (in clinic and in vehicle)
The U.B. Motor Vehicle Accident Research Clinic
University at Buffalo North Campus
Main Street, Amherst, NY
For information or to make a referral call: (716) 645-3650 Ext. 230
Services: Offers free evaluations and treatment services for adults recovering from a car crash
Drive On Senior Program - to learn about driving stress-free and safely, call toll free: 1.877.823.7483.
Buffalo Driving Schools, Inc.
3315 Bailey Ave
Buffalo, NY 14215
(716) 834 4300
Services: Driving Instruction, 5-hour Pre-licensing course, Defensive Driving Course
Health Evaluation Options for Drivers
It may be helpful to arrange for a physician or other primary health care providers to review driving history, other life activities, medications, and health conditions, or to consult with geriatric and other specialists, including vision and mental health evaluations.