The National Institute on Aging estimates that annually over a half million seniors over age 70 stop driving. There are many more who should stop driving but don’t. It’s a difficult situation for society, for seniors and their families.
Many seniors feel that driving equals independence, and they work hard to avoid giving it up. Many deny their real limitations and driving difficulties long after driving has become dangerous for them.
How do we know when it’s time to give up driving?
There’s no magic age, some people find they have to stop driving in their 60’s while others can drive safely into their 90’s. Here are some things for seniors to ask themselves before making the big decision:
- Do other drivers often honk their horns at me?
- Have I had some accidents? Even small scratches or “fender benders”?
- Do I get lost, even on roads I know well?
- Do other cars and pedestrians seem to “appear out of nowhere”?
- Have family, friends or my doctor expressed concern about my driving?
- Do I drive less these days because I’m not as sure about my driving as I used to be?
If the senior answers “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to think seriously about their safety and the safety of others when the senior is behind the wheel.
It’s a good idea to have vision and hearing checked frequently; if your senior wears glasses, make sure the prescription is current. Hearing aids should be properly fitted and batteries regularly replaced. If possible, have your senior avoid driving at nighttime or during peak traffic times. Please also make use of your local council on aging, they almost all offer some sort of transportation service.
AARP: www.aarp.org You will find an Online quiz- “Test Your Driving IQ”. They also offer a classroom or online Driver Safety Course geared toward older drivers.
AAA offices: Local offices have a “Roadside Review ” cd to use at home. Many libraries, Senior Centers and Councils on Aging also have them.
Braintree Rehab Outpatient Clinic: They offer a Driver Evaluations program. It is an unbiased “referee” for families discussing (and often arguing) about giving up driving.
The phone number for the program is 781-348-4017