Can You Drive A Car With Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease involves a specific type of movement disorder, which significantly impairs an individual’s driving skills and cause his/her safety concerns. Even the problem forces a large number of people suffering from parkinson’s disease problem to stop driving their cars. Because of this, primary symptoms present in Parkinson’s disease interfere seriously with one of the complicated tasks i.e. driving a car. These symptoms include the following-

  • Tremor i.e. trembling in arms, hands, jaws, legs and head
  • Rigidity i.e. stiffness in both trunk and limbs
  • Slowness in body movements and
  • Impaired balance or postural instability.

Along with this, a few people dealing with Parkinson’s disease develops cognitive impairment, which includes defects in language, problem solving and language.

Can You Drive A Car With Parkinson's Disease?

Can You Drive A Car With Parkinson’s Disease?

Most of the individuals suffering from early Parkinson’s disease may continue to drive safely, especially, when their symptoms remain controlled. However, when the problem becomes worse with the passage of time, patients have to stop driving their cars and rely on alternatively means of transportation.

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms and their Effects while Driving on Roads

Symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease always vary among patients. These may range from mild symptoms to severe ones. However, in mild cases, patients have a few common symptoms, which include shaking in their hands, arms and legs, impairment of physical balance and slow mental as well as physical responses, all of which affect driving abilities and skills adversely.

For instance, episodes of trembling or tremor starts in one foot or hand and it may affect ability of people to get control of the vehicle. Rigidity may cause jerky motions while handling the steer of cars. Furthermore, slow movement may interfere with brakes while driving vehicles in heavy traffic or ability to react quickly while moving on in hazard roads. Postural instability often lead to stooped type of body posture, in which individuals bow their heads and droop their shoulders, which further result in reduction of the driver’s awareness about their surroundings.

In case of patients with early Parkinson’s disease, medicines may help in reducing symptoms, but they often have side effects, like drowsiness, which further affect one’s ability to drive on road. In fact, devising a medication plan for doctors to reduce primary symptoms present in Parkinson’s disease is difficult and almost impossible for doctors.

Driving Guidelines for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

A few patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease but off course of mild type may continue with driving vehicles. However, they should strictly follow the necessary guidelines, which include the following-

  • Drive vehicles only on the familiar roads
  • Limit their drives to only a few short trips
  • Avoid driving during rush hour or heavy traffic and on heavily traveled routes
  • Restrict the drive to only daylight hours and that too during only favorable weather.

Ways to Monitor Driving Skills of Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Even if any independent evaluation highlights a patient may drive safely, it is essential to continue with monitoring the driving skills for detection of problems, which may result in any severe accident. For this, one should check key warning signs-

  • Driving extremely slowly
  • Stopping in huge traffic without any reason
  • Ignoring traffic signals
  • Getting lost while driving on a familiar route
  • Difficulty in executing turns and changes of lanes
  • Drifting to other traffic lanes or driving on the wrong side in street
  • Forgetting to give signals or signal in an incorrect way
  • Ignoring other vehicles, road hazards and pedestrians
  • Parking in a no parking area or in an incorrect manner
  • Feeling drowsiness or sleepy behind their wheels
  • Frequently getting tickets or penalties for violating traffic rules
  • Involving in nearby miss situations, accidents and fender benders.

Any of these signs may indicate the time to stop driving cars for parkinson’s disease patients. It is very much essential to discuss the concerns with patients and their doctors.

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