Driving and PD

Many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are able to drive safely for many years, especially if symptoms are well controlled.  However, PD has multiple effects on motor, cognitive, and visual functioning, all of which can impair a person’s ability to drive safely.  Since PD is a progressive disease, at some point those with a PD diagnosis will need to give up driving and find other forms of transportation. 

Here you will find information to help you understand how PD affects driving, tips to help you discuss with a loved one that it may be time for them to stop driving, and how MDs assess a person's ability to drive safely.

On these related pages, California Driving Resources and Nationwide Driving Resources, you will find resources to: determine if your driving ability is still safe, maximize driving safety, find a driving rehabilitation specialist, and identify transportation options in lieu of driving.

How PD Affects Driving | Family Matters | How MDs Assess a Person's Ability to Drive

How PD Affects Driving

Considerations for Driving with Parkinson's Disease

Published by Parkinson Society British Columbia, June 8, 2020.

In this hour-long webinar occupational therapist, Kathryn McKall, outlines the impact on driving due to changes specific to Parkinson's Disease (PD) with respect to vision, cognition, hearing, sensory & motor function, and medications.  She provides driving self-assessment questions, suggestions for remaining a safe driver with PD, adaptive equipment and modern tech to make driving easier and safer, the care partner's role in evaluating driving and supporting cessation of driving, and tips to prepare for when you are no longer driving.

Driving and Parkinson's   

Published by the Parkinson's Foundation, 2018. 

This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) reviews how PD affects driving, assessment options, and what family members and friends can do to help. 

Driving When You Have Parkinson's Disease 

Published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 

This 3-page fact sheet (PDF) reviews how Parkinson's (PD) can affect the way you drive, what to do if you see signs that you aren't driving safely, what to do if you have to limit or stop driving, and where to get help with transportation.

Driving with Parkinson’s Disease: Balancing Independence and Safety

Published by Parkinson's Foundation, July 22, 2020.

In this hour-long webinar, Margaret O'Connor, neuroscientist at Brigham & Women's Hospital, addresses driving and PD.    

Driving Wellness for Parkinson's Disease

By APDA Massacheusetts, July 13, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar occupational therapist Jaclyn Davin presents information on changes that affect driving due to aging and Parkinson's, how to continue to drive safe now, and how to address those changes in the future.

Driving When You Have Parkinson’s Disease  

Published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, November 2003.

This 2-page information sheet (PDF) highlights how Parkinson’s disease can affect driving, what you can do to maintain your driving skills as long as possible, and resources for how to get around when you don’t drive yourself.

Facts about Driving and PD   

Published by VA Parkinson's Disease Research, Education & Clinical Center (PADRECC) Bulletin

Page three of this special edition PADRECC Bulletin (PDF) for people with Parkinson's disease and their families includes lots of tips for driving safety.

I have Parkinson's: Can I Still Drive?

By Parkinson's Community Los Angeles, March 17, 2022

In this one hour webinar Arik Johnson, PsyD, provides an overview of the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes which Parkinson's causes that can affect driving.  He discusses how a person would know it is time to stop driving, as well as when and how to talk about it, and what to do if someone who should not be driving is still driving.

My Parkinson's Story: Driving 

Published by the Veteran's Administration

This 9-minute video alternates between an interview with a man and his wife and several specialists. The man and his wife share how he gave up his driver's license due to Parkinson's symptoms and how he is adjusting. The specialists share how Parkinson's symptoms affect a person's ability to drive, and how driving and cognitive assessments can determine a person's fitness to drive.

PD and Driving: How to Steer Clear of Danger

By PMD Alliance, September 2023

In this 1-hour webinar Anthony LoGalbo, PhD, breaks down the cognitive processes involved in driving and any potential impairments from PD to be aware of. He provides resources to access driving as well as driving modifications and alternatives to get around when you can no longer drive safely.
Webinar Notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Family Matters

Beyond Driving with Dignity; The Workbook for the Families of Older Drivers

By Matt Gurwell, 2010

This 114-page workbook is designed to provide comprehensive steps for families to take as they evaluate an older adult’s driving abilities and work through issues of a successful driving retirement.  It is available for purchase from Amazon.  

Conversations About Driving

This short web page offers suggestions for having a productive conversation about driving with your loved one.  It offers facts to help avoid generalizations about older drivers, and tips for evaluating your loved one's driving, preparing for the conversation, dealing with a negative reaction, and meeting transportation needs if they do stop driving.

Of particular interest is the Driver Planning Agreement, a downloadable PDF which both the older driver and family sign.  The family agrees to help the older driver to explore all options to remain mobile, and the older driver agrees to explore other forms of transportation.

Family Conversations with Older Drivers

Published by The Hartford Insurance Group

This short web page highlights changes that occur with age that make driving more risky for older drivers, changes in driving behavior many people naturally make to continue to drive safely as they age, best practices for bringing up the issue if you think someone is no longer safe to drive, and some tips for situations in which the older adult refuses to make any changes to their driving habits.

How Not to Take the Car Keys and How to Take the Keys

By Teepa Snow, OT

These are two videos by occupational therapist Teepa Snow.  In the first, three minutes long, she discusses the wrong ways to take car keys from someone with dementia.  In the second, five minutes long, she demonstrates an effective technique for getting someone with dementia to relinquish car keys.

How to Understand and Influence Older Drivers

Published by the National Highway Trffic Safety Association

This comprehensive webpage is intended to inform and broaden the discussion about older driver safety and mobility. In it you will find detailed guidance to help older drivers make informed decisions about their driving behavior and suggestions on how to begin a conversation about safety concerns.

Safe Driving for a Lifetime: Family Conversations with Older Drivers  

By The Hartford Insurance Group, May 2018.

This 24-page booklet (PDF) helps families understand in what situations an older person should restrict their driving or stop driving.  Best practices in how to talk with someone about the issue, including how to  help them plan for alternative transportation is included.

Seniors and Driving: A Guide

Published by Caring.com

Comprehensive webpage covering causes of driving difficulties with age, warning signs of an unsafe elderly driver, professional assessments of driving safety, how the DMV can help ensure an older adult drives safely, how to have 'the talk' about giving up the keys, ways tohelp a senior transition from driving, transportation options for seniors who no longer drive, and top ridesharing options for seniors.

We Need to Talk: Conversations About Driving

Online seminar, produced by AARP, The Hartford, and MIT AgeLab (also available in Spanish).
En Español:   Tenemos que hablar

How MDs Assess a Person's Ability to Drive

Clinician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers, third edition

Published by AGS Geriatrics Healthcare Professionals and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, January 2016.

This 313-page book (PDF) details best clinical practices in assessing an older driver’s ability to drive. 

Last updated January 2023 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.