Signs of Unsafe Driving in Someone With Dementia

The question of when to give up the keys is an emotional minefield, but being aware of the dangers at the earliest stages of dementia might help you intervene early enough to spare the person a ticket, a fender bender, or, worse, a tragedy. Watch for these signs.

Behind the wheel:

  • Not following the speed limit (going too fast or, more often, too slowly)

  • Drifting into other lanes

  • Seeming flustered by distractions (such as the radio or conversation in the car)

  • Neglecting to signal

  • Turning from an improper lane

  • Confusing the brake and accelerator

  • Showing a slowed reaction time (to obstacles, changing lights)

  • Having difficulty following directions (from a companion in the car or a GPS system)

  • Tailgating

  • Getting lost, especially on familiar routes

  • Seeming tense or preoccupied while driving

  • Signs of irritation from other drivers, such as honking

  • Neglecting to fasten seat belt

Off road:

  • Auto insurance rates have increased recently

  • Recent tickets or warnings

  • Recent nicks, scrapes, or dents on the car body

  • Reluctance to drive at night

  • Exhaustion after driving

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio