Considering Safety: Driving


Safety of your loved one is an important consideration in determining whether independent functioning is a reasonable goal. Common safety considerations include the ability to:

  • Use a phone or emergency call system
  • Remove themselves from danger, including opening doors and negotiating stairways
  • Drive

senior driving carDriving requires the coordination of a host of skills to operate a vehicle safely. The majority of people who develop chronic disabilities drove before they became disabled. The ability to return to driving depends on physical, cognitive, perceptual and visual skills, as well as self-control, impulse control and frustration tolerance.

Physical adaptations to vehicles can compensate for some physical problems like paralysis. However, there is no way to compensate for slowed reactions to emergency situations, poor judgement or problem solving ability, decreased endurance and some visual problems. For this reason, issues like reduced awareness, poor visual scanning of the environment, distractibility and attention deficits are more predictive of poor driving ability than physical deficits.

In Alberta, you are required by law to report any medical condition that could influence driving ability to the Motor Vehicles Branch with a medical form.  Based on the information listed on the form, a driving test may be required as determined by the Motor Vehicles medical review board. After a change in medical status, conditions may be placed on an individual’s driver’s license.

It is also important to report the medical condition, along with proof of the ability to drive, to your insurance company.  If your loved one were to be involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving, without informing your insurance company of their condition, they may not cover you.

Finally, if you are uncertain if a family member is okay to drive, you can contact the Motor Vehicles Branch of Service Alberta by letter, fax or e-mail. Express your concern; they will follow up by asking the individual to provide proof of ability to drive, and may also ask for a driving assessment.

Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2019, 2:54 PM