Doctor’s Diary September 9, 2017: Safe Senior Driving

(Snippets from the frontline)

Safe Senior Driving

Ever find yourself behind a slow car, and as you pass notice the gray haired driver tightly gripping the wheel while staring and leaning forward? 

These are seniors trying to remain independent while maintaining their quality of life, but is it safe for them to drive?  The Department of Motor Vehicles makes the final decision, but doctors have been put in the middle of this evaluation.  Why?  Physicians don’t have this expertise nor training.

As suggested by many doctors, have a driver simulator make this evaluation.  They use it for airline and military pilots; at amusement parks; for golf; and now in surgical training.   Figure out the cost, and set them up.

These simulators would let a driver start the “car,” then simultaneously test their vision and reflexes quantifying the ability to safely drive.  If you get enough points, you pass!   

Until then, take advantage of local bus or train transportation; senior center free taxi vouchers; carpooling; Uber of Lyft; or just wait for the autonomous (computerized) car to come to market.

And maybe when they have a simulator, it will be available at Disneyland so you can get there early for the test, and then enjoy the rest of the day.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.


  • J. Reid says:

    Sounds like a great idea! And though I’m not a senior citizen, I have driven in enough places around the country to realize that the LA area has some of the craziest drivers around, so I don’t think it should be limited to senior citizens. By all means test everyone that survives an accident, regardless of how minor.
    I’m currently mobilized to Germany, and while they are fast drivers on the Autobahn, they are ORDERLY drivers, no swerving in and out of traffic or running red lights. No driving slow in the left lane or fast in the right lane. Cameras catch speeders & send their pictures to their address.
    Seems to work for them. Of course the privilege of a driver’s license there costs several thousand euros. And drunk drivers lose their license permanently.

  • Don Gately says:

    I’ve .been saying for years that simulators ought to be mandatory for renewing drivers licenses – at what age – maybe 65?

  • Allen Chroman says:

    The occupational therapy department at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles has an excellent driver evaluation program, and will offer adaptive advice. But if you fail they do report to the DMV

  • allan tobias says:


    Our hospital John Muir in Walnut Creek and Concord actually has a driver course for those rehabing or if the family wants to make sure gramps is safe. It does cost about $300 and not paid for by insurance. There are didactic and if one passes that then they drive with an evaluator.

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