Driving Over Age 65: Better Safe Than Sorry
As we age, our bodies don’t behave the same way they used to which can make certain tasks, particularly driving, difficult. While many senior citizens are able to drive without issue, there are many who have to stop driving around the age of 65 as there is too much risk involved.
Warning Signs: Time to Stop
Certain health conditions or medications may make driving more difficult. Even if you can still comfortably drive, it may not be safe enough to keep yourself accident free. Watch for these warning signs:
- Getting lost in areas you used to know well.
- An increased number of close call accidents
- An increased number of citations from local law enforcement
- An inability to hear sirens and other sounds of the road
- An inability to see or read traffic signs and signals
- Unable to follow the basic rules of the road such as making quick lane changes, not wearing a seatbelt, not obeying traffic lights and signs, etc.
Remember, certain medications may cause side effects that make it unsafe to drive, such as drowsiness. If you don’t feel alert enough to make it through your whole trip, you should not drive. Wait until you’re feeling fully alert or ask someone else to drive you.
Tips for Senior Safety When Driving
Seniors who drive should take extra precaution to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of others on the road. You should always be sure your car is in good working order. Mechanical issues can make driving less safe while damaged tires can directly cause an accident. Drive only in conditions you are comfortable with; dark or rainy conditions can be especially challenging. If you don’t like the idea of driving on the interstate anymore, use back roads when possible but don’t venture too far from home. Engage in defensive driving tactics, making sure you leave plenty of stopping distance, and take a defensive driving course to refresh your memory, if needed.
How to Talk to a Loved One
When talking about the possibility of giving up driving, do so with care. Be respectful and make sure you can provide specific examples. It’s sometimes helpful to have another person, such as a sibling, grandchild, or other loved ones there to support you and help the senior see you are not attacking them. Prepare a list of options to ensure your loved one knows they wont become isolated.
- Many local city governments provide free or low cost transportation services for seniors.
- Rideshare companies, such as Uber or Lyft, also provide affordable transportation that can be ordered and tracked using any smart phone.
- Some private companies may offer free or discounted rates to seniors as well.
If you or a senior loved one needs to stop driving, realize it is okay and start seeking out alternatives. It can be hard to let go of the freedom, however, there are plenty of transportation services out there to help seniors remain independent. Whether you use public transportation, a service specially designed for seniors, or take advantage of offers from friends and loved ones, you can still get to and from important places.
About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.