Driving/Transportation Counseling

Click on the links below to access specific information about:
Safety Issues and Evaluations
How/When to Discuss Driving Concerns
Medical Issues
Licensing Issues: How to Report/How to Discuss
Transportation Plans for When Driving is No Longer an Option

The Driving/Transportation and Mobility Counseling program is funded in part by a grant from the United Way of Southeast Michigan.


An older driver does not necessarily mean an unsafe driver. Many older drivers compensate for declining abilities and continue to educate themselves on driving and traffic issues.

Regardless of age, certain functional abilities must be present in order to drive safely. Chief among these are:

  • Cognitive-the mental process of acquiring knowledge by the use of reasoning, intuition, or perception
  • Visual– basic and complex vision as well as depth perception and night vision
  • Physical-being able to coordinate and move the body

As we age, these abilities naturally decline, and a majority of the time, medical issues and/or the medications taken can further decline these abilities. The changes are often subtle and not always recognized by individuals.

Below are topics, questions, resources, and helpful links for specific driving issues. We also have Resource Specialists trained in Mobility Options Counseling available through our Information and Assistance Line – (800) 852-7795.

Safety Issues and Evaluations


Recommended Questions & Resources

Additional Information

Am I / my loved one safe to drive? What is prompting this question?
Have there been any “near misses”?
Any unexplained damage to vehicle?
New medical diagnoses/condition/medication?
Lost or confused while driving?
Family/friends/police have concerns?
Suggest having family or friend ride along and objectively observe driving behavior-observing all traffic laws, operate vehicle controls, able to interact with traffic, overly stressed while driving?
Suggest a refresher class listed below
Obtain copy of AARP’s “We Need to Talk” booklet-Contact Area Agency on Aging for a free copy:

(800) 852-7795 or www.thehartford.com/talkwitholderdrivers

Age by itself is not an indication of driving ability
Some medical conditions can be compensated for with use of special equipment/rehabilitation
Where can I get an evaluation of my driving skills or take a refresher course? www.aaaseniors.com
www.um-saferdriving.org/firstPage.php www.aarp.org/families/driver_safety/driver_safetyissues
This is private and confidential-results are for individual only

Must have computer/internet access, ability

AARP Driver Safety Education Class

1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669)

Low cost, 1-3 half days, confidential (not reported to police, family physicians, Secretary of State, courts)
Traffic Improvement Association Mature Driver Program

www.tiami.us or 248-334-4971

Same as above, and includes on the road evaluation and other evaluations
Commercial Driving Schools Costly, NOT confidential-results will be reported to Secretary of State office
How/When to Discuss Driving Concerns


Recommended Questions & Resources

Additional Information

How/when to discuss driving concerns Base conversations on specific observations – driving and/or physical/mental conditions.
Express your concern for their (and others) safety and health.

Be respectful and use “I” messages.
Use examples of family or friends who have stopped driving.
Do not take negative responses personally – making a lifestyle change is difficult.

Have a “Mobility Action Plan”
Click here for “Mobility Action Plan” forms to print out

www.thehartford.com/talkwitholderdrivers and “We Need to Talk” from the AARP are excellent resources for this topic Conversations should begin well before there is a problem- plan for “retirement” of driving “I am concerned about your safety when you are driving” rather than “you shouldn’t drive anymore” “I noticed some new dents in the car, how did that happen?”
Medical Issues


Recommended Questions & Resources

Additional Information

For medical conditions and need for special equipment- very in-depth evaluation Beaumont Health Center- Beaumont Health Center Rehabilitation Services 248-655-5800

St. John North Shores Hospital- Drive to Independence

St. Joseph Mercy Health Center- http://www.sjmercyhealth.org/body.cfm?id=324

University of Michigan-MedRehab-

These are very costly, require a physician’s referral, and are NOT confidential-results will be shared with Secretary of State’s office
Stroke, Dementia, Alzheimer’s When someone passes out or has a stroke, they should be told by their physician to not drive for at least six months, and with dementia or Alzheimer’s, some doctors will write a “prescription” stating “Do Not Drive”. Some physicians will not address driving issues at all and may need to be prompted to do so by other family members. Many times drivers will listen to the doctor or another authority figure rather than families.

Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will require extra vigilance and patience. Extreme measures may have to be utilized to ensure driver’s safety including disabling the car, hiding the keys and moving or selling the vehicle.

Ask physician if hospital rehabilitation centers would help in each case
Specialized Equipment


Recommended Questions & Resources

Additional Information

Specialized Equipment for Vehicles Includes: spinner knob for easier steering, hand controls for gas, brake pedals, telescope glasses, wheelchair lifts/ramps, pedal extenders, swivel seats, etc. Use only licensed providers-call Area Agency on Aging 1-B (800) 852-7795

May need a doctor’s prescription and special training at hospital rehab program

For New Vehicles Many auto manufacturers offer partial reimbursement for eligible adaptive equipment. Contact a local dealer for more information.. See above
Licensing Issues, How to report, How to Discuss


Recommended Questions & Resources

Additional Information

Licensing Issues Michigan driver’s licenses are renewed every 4 years- by mail every other time if no violations. There is no longer a written test to renew licenses. (07/2009) Renewals are sent 30-60 days in advance – go before their birthday in case any issues arise (don’t pass vision screening, don’t have proper paperwork)
If someone has been referred to the Secretary of State’s office for a re-examination, possibly by police or a physician (see below), they will be notified in writing and will have to undergo extensive evaluations (written, vision, cognitive, driving). Often, after the assessment, drivers may be issued a license with restrictions on them: no night driving, no freeway driving, only drive within 20 miles of home, etc.
How to report an unsafe driver to the Secretary of State office A form (OC-88) is available at local branches or on-line – www.michigan.gov. Need to have specific information (such as always backs into garbage cans, has specific medical condition, or routinely ignores traffic signs/signals)
Must provide reporters information and sign the request. Anonymous requests are not accepted

Secretary of State will keep information confidential to the extent permitted by law

When Driving is No Longer an Option,
When a Driver Will Not Stop


Recommended Questions & Resources

Additional Information

When driving is no longer an option When someone stops driving, whether it is their decision or not, they may experience the same stages of grief as when a death occurs (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance)

Review/make action plan (below)
Give names and phone numbers of those willing to drive, local cab companies, public transit (suggest that someone be with them when calling and riding the first time)

Contact local senior centers for transportation options

Assist in finding stores that will deliver groceries and/or prescriptions, and other services (hair styling, etc) that will come to them

Make a transportation plan (page 7).

Some may need counseling and/or medical help for depression
They may need other services now – Meals on Wheels, social worker, home care, chore help

Point out the dollar value of no longer driving – no car payments, insurance, maintenance, or gas

Keep proceeds from sale of vehicle in a separate account and use it to pay for public/private transportation

It may be necessary to relocate to a setting where transportation is more readily available

When a loved one will not stop driving, even when no longer safe Enlist help of family doctor, sometimes they will listen to a non-family member

Complete and submit an OC-88 Form from the Secretary of State office (see page 7)

Disable the vehicle (let air out of tires, remove keys from home, take off distributor cap, give them a different set of keys)

In extreme cases, sell or remove vehicle from the property

If physician is not comfortable, refer them to the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA) “Physicians Guide To Assessing And Counseling Older Drivers”
www.nhtsa.dot.gov (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
Also at: www.ama-assn.org

www.alz.org (Alzheimer’s Association)