For most aging parents or family members, the decision to stop driving is a difficult one. Giving up the keys raises daunting practical problems, such as getting to doctor appointments, running errands or just occasional outings with friends and family. Ceasing to drive represents to elderly drivers another loss at a time of life when there are multiple major losses, such as independence, health, lifelong friends and loved ones.
So for practical and emotional reasons, giving up driving is a “transition that everyone involved wishes to put off as long as possible.” This is why for many adult children and spouses, taking away the car keys is among the hardest things they ever had to do. However, no matter the difficulty, if there are concerns about a family member’s ability to drive safely, it is vital not to ignore them.
Although some seniors are able to drive safely well into their 80s or even early 90s, there are still physical issues they may be dealing with.
“According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the rate of accidents per mile of driving increases steadily for drivers 65 and older. More worrisome still, drivers 80 and older have higher crash death rates than any other group except teenage drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. (One reason: Older drivers are physically frailer than other drivers and thus more likely to die in a crash.)”
So, it is important to urge a loved one to stop driving if you are convinced he’s dangerous behind a wheel. Here are some signs that indicate a person should begin to limit or stop driving.
1. Almost crashing, with frequent “close calls”. Due to increase health and mental conditions, such as vision impairment, hearing impairment, or memory loss, the driver may not be able to adequately gage his driving with others on the road.
2. Damage to the car or property. If there are new dents and nicks on the car, scrapes on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc. the driver is bumping or running into things more frequently, thus making him an unsafe driver.
3. Getting lost, especially in familiar locations. This may be sign of early dementia or other related memory condition. Please consult with a physician for further examination.
4. Experiencing road rage or causing other drivers to honk or complain. Many times when a person is having trouble driving due to various reasons, they often times react with extreme hostility or rage, thus causing road rage when behind the wheel.
5. Easily becoming distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving. Similarly to getting lost in familiar places, this may be a cognitive condition that may have to be examined by a physician.
6. Receiving multiple traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement officers. If your loved one is receiving an increased amount of traffic violation, you may need to explore the causes of the violations.
These are just some of the cautionary signs that you are noticing when your loved one is driving. It may be time to initiate a discussion about your concerns and whether it might be time for him to stop driving.
Connie Matthiessen.(2016, October 12). When to Stop Driving.
Martha Stettinius. (2014, March 11). Crucial Signs that a Person Should Stop Driving.
David Williams. (2013, October 15). How to Know When to Stop Driving.
Krisha McCoy. (2015, March, 5). Signs It’s Time to Stop Driving.