Is driving a skill

When does driving become dangerous in old age?

Decreasing muscle strength and mobility, impaired vision and reduced ability to multitask: such age-typical changes often cause problems for senior citizens at the wheel. The difficulties are often compensated for by changing driving behavior - low speeds, only in daylight. This means that those affected could often drive quite safely for a while, Dr. Albert Lukas, Malteser Hospital Seliger Gerhard in Bonn, reports at the internists' congress.

Contrary to what the discussion about driving tests for older people often suggests, people over 65 are even underrepresented in the accident statistics. However, older people involved in car accidents are more likely to be the main culprit and more likely to die than younger people. "The older driver is a threat, but the absolute risk is low. Rather, he is the one at risk," said Lukas.

The geriatrician recommends the SAFE questionnaire as an aid with which "critical candidates" can be identified with high specificity and sensitivity. For example, they are asked about their driving history, which includes not only accidents but also information from relatives that they feel unsafe as a passenger. Other criteria include coping with everyday activities, eyesight, cervical spine mobility as well as cognitive performance and flexibility. "If you have an MMST of 24 or more, you should leave the car behind," added Professor Dr. Andreas Jacobs, neurologist from Bonn. In addition to dementia, many other diseases, such as CHD and heart failure, diabetes, cerebral ischemia or Parkinson's, can theoretically impair the ability to drive. The negative effects of medicinal products should be considered especially in therapy with psychotropic drugs, hypnotics and sedatives (especially benzodiazepines), analgesics, antidiabetic and antihypertensive drugs.

In the case of inadequate driving skills, the doctor is legally obliged to provide safety information and recommendations on behavior, including a medical driving ban. This security clearance should be carefully documented, as attorney Dr. Sebastian Almer from Munich emphasized. If a patient wants to continue to drive a car despite a doctor's ban on driving and is not sane, the doctor's duties even go so far that he has to prevent the drive, if necessary by calling the police.