Is It Time To Retire From Driving?
Did You Know?
Statistically seniors have fewer accidents than the general population. The downside is that drivers over 70 years of age have a much higher fatality rate in high impact collisions, no matter who is at fault.
As we age, our reaction times are slower and brain signals are often impaired. For example, this can cause us to actually step on the accelerator when our intention is to apply the brake.
An honest self-assessment of your driving is important for your well-being as well as the safety of those in your community. Consult with your primary care physician to evaluate health issues that may impair your driving ability.
Many individuals develop limitations in their ability to continue to drive independently. Vision problems interfere with a person’s ability to see the road and avoid objects and other vehicles. Hearing problems hinder the ability to modify driving at the sound of car horns or police/fire department sirens. Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and the effects of stroke can impair a person’s ability to perform the mechanics of driving. Cognitive impairment or dementia can interfere with a person’s ability to remember directions to familiar locations or the rules of the road.
Warning Signs of Diminishing Driving Skills
- Abrupt lane changes, erratic braking or accelerating.
- Reluctance of others to be passengers when you drive.
- Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs and pavement markings.
- Failing to use turn signals or leaving signal on after completing a turn.
- Drifting into other lanes.
- Misjudging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway ramps.
- More frequent “close calls.”
- Getting lost more often.
- Other driving honking at you.
What Can I Do Next?
To retire from driving is not giving up independence, even though it may seem that way; it may merely be an inconvenience. It may be difficult to recognize that an activity which has been a major part of your adult life may no longer be safe. Fortunately, there are alternatives. Maintaining your quality of life by attending social events and activities that have meaning to you are extremely important. The following are some of the steps you an take to empower yourself and remain independent:
- Exercise has numerous benefits for senior drivers, including safer driving and adding time to driving longevity.
- Mature driver workshops are offered at local community centers, libraries, houses of worship and senior living communities.
- Consider a consultation with a certified driving professional. They can complete a hands-on assessment of you and your vehicle. Simple adaptations to your vehicle or adjustments to your driving habits may make all the difference.
- Look for transportation alternatives such as taxis, local government sponsored senior transit buses, senior centers with door to door transportation or private agencies that provide drivers.
- Consider moving to an area where you can walk to stores or possibly move to an independent senior living community.