When is the right time to give up driving?

Although driving may feel like an automatic activity to experienced motorists, it actually requires complex interactions between eyes, brain and muscles, along with rapid reaction responses to deal with unexpected circumstances.

Dementia will eventually erode these skills and at some point the difficult decision will have to be made to give up driving. Exactly when this will be depends very much on the individual. 

Some people lose their confidence behind the wheel early on and decide, for themselves, to make alternative transport arrangements soon after their diagnosis. Others are able to carry on driving safely for several years. 

Safety of course has to be the key factor in the decision.

Here families and friends have a valuable role to play as too often people with dementia under-estimate the effect their symptoms are having on their ability to drive. 

However hard it may be to accept, the following are all warning signs that its time to quit:

  • Forgetting how to locate familiar places
  • Failing to observe traffic signs
  • Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
  • Driving at an inappropriate speed
  • Becoming angry or confused while driving
  • Hitting curbs
  • Using poor lane control
  • Making errors at junctions
  • Confusing the brake and gas pedals
  • Returning from a routine drive later than usual
  • Forgetting the destination you are driving to during the trip

When the time comes, support, patience and understanding from carers and family members will be essential to help make the necessary adjustments to lifestyle and potential loss of independence.

​Discussions on the subject are rarely easy, and sadly,its a common reaction for the person affected to become angry and resentful when the subject is raised. With this in mind, the Alzheimer's Association in the USA have produced a few YouTube video clips which, with any luck, will give you a few ideas on how to get the ball rolling.