All of us can remember the day we received our driver’s licence and how much more independent we felt, even if we had no car. But as we get older, we begin to slow down and our ability to “run road” slows down with us. Here are things to keep in mind if you’re an older driver.
Your Safety and Old Age
Understandably, driving is not a privilege that anyone wants to give up willingly. Still, safety must come first.
True, your ability to drive is not determined by the date on your birth certificate, but your ability to hear, see, react to and observe your surroundings in a way that will reduce the risk of injury to you or other road users while driving, is very critical.
As drivers get older there are a number of warning signs they must look out for to determine if they should hang up their car keys for good. According to the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), some stop signs for senior citizens include:
- Almost crashing, with frequent “close calls”
- Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, gates, garage doors, curbs, etc
- Getting lost, especially in familiar locations
- Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings
- Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving their foot from the gas to the brake pedal or even confusing the two pedals
- Misjudging gaps in traffic, at intersections and on highway entrances and exits
- Experiencing road rage or causing other drivers to honk or complain excessively
- Easily becoming distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving
- Having a hard time turning around to check the rearview while backing up or changing lanes
- Receiving multiple traffic tickets or “warnings” from police officers.
Advice and Support
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or in your loved ones, you may want to contact an expert for advice.
- Consulting with your doctor is a good first step since they know your medical history and can advise accordingly.
- Possibly retaking your driver’s test may also be helpful, so you can refresh yourself as you get older.
- Another option is to contact the Rehabilitation Institute of the Caribbean to get Occupational Therapy, which can help you get back behind the wheel safely and comfortably.
- But when all those options are exhausted it may be best to hitch a ride with friends or family members, take public transportation or try cycling or walking.
It’s About Health and Ability Not Age…
Mark Hornbeck, a spokesman for AARP in Michigan, United States said concluding that senior drivers are a problem is “not a jump that people should make. Driving skill is more related to health than it is to age. There’s no magic age at which everyone needs to give up their keys. It’s a health-related issue.”
Therefore, if you are dealing with health conditions that may threaten your ability to sit behind the wheel including, dementia (like Alzheimer’s disease), problems with hearing or vision, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, chronic arthritis, diabetes, or any other conditions that require medications that could impair driving ability, such as anti-depressant drugs, narcotics, or sleeping pills, then hanging up the keys may be better for you and others.