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Driving is often a part of our everyday life. It's something most of us will take for granted. This can make it hard to know when it may be time to stop.
Age is a common reason to stop driving. However, not all seniors need to give up driving. The AAA Foundation for Safety points out that age should never be used as the main reason for driving limits. A range of other factors, like vision, hearing, and reflexes, need to be considered. It may be hard to know when it is time to hang up the keys. Here are some tips to help.
Start by asking the following questions:
A number of "yes" answers should raise concern. It suggests that you or your loved one:
Passing a driver test at a state agency is not the best test of driving ability. Drivers with reflex problems may still be able to pass the test. Rehabilitation centers and insurance companies offer better tests that help to rate driving ability. You can also go for a drive with your loved one. Look for signs of stress or tension while they are driving.
The primary care doctor may let you or your loved one know when it is time to give up the car. They will make recommendations based on what they find in exam. Muscle strength, eye sight, reflexes, and general overall health can all be assessed. It is important to let them know about any close calls or road troubles. Limits like only driving during the day may be tried first.
If you notice that your loved one's car is getting bumped and dented, it may be a good time to bring the topic up. Talk about the new dents and scratches that you've noticed. Ask what's been happening. Your loved one may be relieved to talk about it. Some may be very resistant. Steps that may help include:
Some may still refuse to give up their keys. If you feel like they are a danger you may have other options. Consider contacting your loved one's doctor. They may be able to assess for issues such as dementia. You can also send a letter to state agency that voices your concerns. It will start a review. Some states allow you to remain anonymous but not all.
Talk to your loved ones if you feel like it is time to give up driving. They may be relieved that you brought it up. It can also help to understand what options you have.
Buses, taxis, and vans are available through different places. Senior citizen centers, hospitals, city or town systems, and internet-based companies can help your loved one get around. Many seniors also count on family and friends for rides. Car trips can be a good chance to stay in touch with friends and family. For example, a grandchild may drive grandmother to the grocery stores every week.
For seniors on a fixed income, giving up the car may save you money. Public transportation does cost money but often less than the cost of a car and car upkeep. If a loved has had to give up their car, it is important to check in on them. The loss of a car can lead to isolation for some. Encourage them to get out again through other methods. They may find changes bring new opportunities.
Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Drivers 65 plus: suggestions for improvement. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety website. Available at: https://www.aaafoundation.org/drivers-65-plus-suggestions-improvement. Accessed February 19, 2019.
How's my driving? State of Michigan website. Available at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ElderlyDriving_0909_84709_7.pdf. Accessed February 19, 2019.
Knowing when it's time to stop driving. Healthy Women website. Available at: http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/knowing-when-its-time-stop-driving. Accessed February 19, 2019.
Last reviewed February 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD Last Updated: 2/12/2019