When it comes to safe driving, it’s not age but an ability that matters. Be aware of your changing abilities.
Consider the following questions….
- Does he or she get lost on routes that should be familiar?
- Have you noticed new dents, scratches, or other damage to his or her vehicle?
- Has he or she been warned by a police officer, about poor driving performance, or received a ticket for a driving violation?
- Has he or she experienced a near miss or crash recently?
- Has his or her doctor advised him or her to limit or stop driving due to a health reason?
- Is he or she overwhelmed by signs, signals, road markings, and everything else he or she needs to focus on when driving?
- Does he or she take any medication that might affect his or her capacity to drive safely?
- Does he or she stop inappropriately and/or drive too slowly, preventing the safe flow of traffic?
- Does he or she suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, glaucoma, cataracts, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or other illnesses that may affect his or her driving skills?
If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions about an older driver, it is important to have caring, respectful, and non-confrontational conversations about his or her safety, as well as the safety of others on the road. Show genuine concern and understanding, and offer viable alternatives that will not injure the older driver’s self-respect and sense of independence. You might also consider taking a ride with an older driver to observe his or her driving skills, or encourage him or her to get a vision and hearing evaluation or enroll in an older driver safety class. You can also discuss your concerns with your loved one’s physician, and ask for recommendations.
The good news is that depending on the severity of the problem, older drivers may be able to adjust their driving habits to increase their safety. For example, they may limit driving to daylight hours and good weather, or avoid highways and high traffic areas.
Most roads are difficult for walkers to safely cross or distances too great to reach an appointment without some form of transportation. More public and private transportation options are emerging each year.