A senior discusses his advance driving directive and alternative transportation with his daughter

Navigating the Road Ahead: Can Advance Driving Directives Help?

For people navigating the aging process, driving remains a symbol of independence. It enables seniors to care for themselves, stay connected with loved ones, and maintain a routine outside the home.

However, recognizing when it's no longer safe to drive becomes increasingly challenging with age, making it important to proactively prepare for this decision. Many seniors rely on friends, family, and loved ones to navigate this sensitive topic. But that can lead to difficult conversations.

One way to plan ahead, prepare for these conversations, and ensure you take an active role in this decision-making process is through an advance driving directive.

What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An advance health care directive is a legal document that allows you to express your preferences for medical care in case you later become unable to communicate your wishes directly. You can also choose someone to make medical decisions for you.

For more information about advance health care directives, read our Quick Guide to Advance Health Care Directives.

By documenting these preferences in advance, you can provide clarity to loved ones and healthcare providers and give yourself peace of mind, ensuring that your values and wishes are known throughout your care.

What is an Advance Driving Directive?

Unlike advance health care directives, an advance driving directive is not legally binding and does not appoint someone to make decisions about driving on your behalf.

Instead, you choose someone to start the conversation at the appropriate time. While this person cannot force you to stop driving, you are empowering them to bring up concerns about your ability to drive and talk about options. In some cases, you may also give them the right to take your keys or disable or relocate your care. 

Even though it is not binding, an advance driving directive can pave the way for these difficult discussions before it becomes urgent.

What does an Advance Driving Directive include?

An advance driving directive typically includes:

  • Picking a trusted person to bring up concerns about your ability to drive at a point in the future
  • Responsibilities for the person you choose, such as figuring out safe driving options or alternative transportation
  • Actions the person can take to ensure safety, such as access to keys or cars
  • Your signature and the signature of the person you choose

How do I create an Advance Driving Directive?

Here are two sample templates for advance driving directives that you can complete on your own:

Do I need an attorney?

You do not need an attorney to complete an advance driving directive. These templates create non-binding agreements, but legal interpretations may vary by state. You may consult with an attorney to review an agreement or draft an agreement as part of your estate plan.

By proactively addressing driving concerns and paving the way for an effective conversations through an advance driving directive, you can maintain control over your driving and transportation decisions and prioritize safety for yourself and others.

For more information about estate planning topics, visit Triage Cancer’s Estate Planning Resources.


About Triage Cancer

Triage Cancer is a national, nonprofit providing free education to people diagnosed with cancer, caregivers, and health care professionals on cancer-related legal and practical issues. Through events, materials, and resources, Triage Cancer is dedicated to helping people move beyond diagnosis.

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Monica Bryant