How to keep older drivers safe
These signs may mean it's time to take the keys away.
It's hard to say what evokes more fear: when your teenager passes their road test or when an aging parent forgets how to drive home.
Driving skills start to diminish with age. As we grow older, reaction times slow. Changes in vision, hearing, strength, endurance, coordination, flexibility, memory and judgment can impact our ability to drive safely. Some older drivers take medication that can also affect their driving ability.
There is frequently concern among family members over when the right time is to step in if driving skills appear to be putting people at risk. Some people will modify their driving habits on their own as they age, but others may have to be encouraged or even forced to do so.
These signs mean it's time to evaluate whether it's still safe for someone to drive:
- Getting lost more frequently
- Reacting slowly when stopping or changing lanes
- Driving too slow or too fast
- Getting into accidents or having "near misses"
- Finding more scratches and dents on the car
If you're concerned about the driving ability of an aging loved one, bringing up the subject can be tricky. But for the safety of your loved one and others on the road, it's important that older adults who show changes in their driving abilities be evaluated to determine whether it's time to modify driving habits or even take the keys away.
Here are 5 things older drivers can do to stay safer:
- Don't drive at night or in bad weather
- Stay off major highways / Only drive locally
- Stick with familiar roads and routes
- Have driving skills evaluated
- Take a driver's education refresher course