Health & Driving

Elderly woman driving a carDriving is a complex task, using many skills, and requires drivers to:

  

  • Recall the directions to your destination and navigate through terrain
  • Constantly scan the environment for hazards and info
  • Pay attention to what’s around you and maintain your position on the road
  • Compare memory of past experiences and prioritize visual images
  • Judge speed and evaluate risk
  • Constantly make snap decisions
  • Anticipate the future actions of others on the roadway

Accomplishing these tasks requires:

  • Good vision
  • Alert mental function
  • Quick reaction time
  • Stamina
  • Other cognitive and physical health factors

Visual, mental and physical skills it takes to safely operate a vehicle may change over the course of your life. So, it’s important to get regular exams and discuss any concerns with your family and a professional - see list of options.

Staying Healthy to Drive as Long as Safely Possible

Health affects your driving. All drivers need to understand the impacts of health issues on driving and how to best manage potential risks.

Some simple steps you can take for yourself and/or for family and friends:

  1. Wear your seatbelt
  2. Do not speed or drink and drive.
  3. Understand that older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when a crash does occur due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies.
  4. Driver safety programs improve adult driver safety by addressing cognitive abilities and skills,
  5. Have your car properly adjusted through a program such as CarFit or with a Maryland Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. A proper fit in one's car can greatly increase not only the driver's safety but also the safety of others.

What if there’s a question of medical fitness to drive?

Maryland licensed drivers may be referred to MVA’s medical review process if there is a question of medical fitness to drive. If so, then MVA provides an individual review of the driver. A comprehensive skills evaluation or clinical assessment identifies areas where you might need help and provides information on how to get specialized training and advice.

When a person is referred to the MVA’s medical review process, the case is handled by the Driver Wellness & Safety Division. A nurse case manager reviews pertinent medical information from the individual's health care providers because they are most familiar with the individual's medical condition. The MVA nurse may request a consultation on the case from the Medical Advisory Board, which is comprised of physicians from various medical specialties. During the review process, the driver may be asked for additional information, including medical, driver knowledge or driving skill evaluations.

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For more in-depth assistance, contact your local MAP office directly or call the statewide toll-free number (1-844-627-5465).