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Dealing With the Older Driver: Driving Skills Assessments

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MARCH 24, 2003 VOLUME 10, NUMBER 38

Elder Law Issues has devoted several recent weeks’ articles to some of the problems involving aging drivers. If you are concerned about your own driving skills or those of an older family member, you may wish to obtain a formal skills assessment.

The Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) provides information about driving assessments and referrals to certified specialists. ADED recommends that a driving assessment include testing on visual perception, functional ability, reaction time and a road test.

Visual processing speed, an important component of safe driving, decreases as we age. The Useful Field of View (UFOV) test is a measure of visual processing speed that is increasingly touted as a reliable predictor of accident probability. Researchers at University of Alabama-Birmingham UAB have worked on UFOV for more than a decade.

UFOV is given in three parts. First, a silhouette of a car or truck flashes for less than a second on a computer screen and test takers must touch the word on the screen that corresponds to the vehicle type. Second, test takers must remember where a circular shape flashed on the screen near the vehicle. Last, they must be able to ignore a third object which appears only as a distraction.

Encouraging news: UFOV can be a training tool as well as a diagnostic instrument. According to UFOV researcher Dr. Karlene Ball, in those elderly drivers with poor visual processing skills, training with a modified version of the computer test for four to seven hours may raise visual processing speed to within normal levels.

Recovering stroke victims may wish to explore with a driving rehabilitation specialist or occupational therapist the possibility of incorporating adaptive aids. Cars can be adapted for post-stroke patients so that they accommodate the driver’s “good” side, or allow steering by a modified hand or foot control. Simple adaptations such as adding larger rear and side-view mirrors to cars may assist many drivers with decreased neck mobility.

In addition to ADED, local occupational therapists, local area agencies on aging, your state department of motor vehicles, or your physician may provide driving assessment referrals. Remember that mature driver courses are offered by a variety of organizations, the best-known of which is AARP’s Driver Safety Program. (formerly 55 Alive). Course schedules nationwide may be found on AARP’s website or by calling its toll-free line at (888)AARP-NOW. Participating in safety courses entitles older drivers to insurance discounts mandated by law in most states.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.