Posts Tagged ‘senior driver’

Seniors in Joliet: To drive or not to drive

Giving up driving can be a tremendous blow to an older person. There’s the practical side: how to run errands, get to the doctor, visit friends, etc., and then there’s the emotional side: driving is a key symbol of independence.

Agreeing to forgo driving is in many ways also an agreement to give up one’s independence. It is very tough. Most seniors will drive as long as they can, and many times, it is up to the adult children to decide when driving has become unsafe.

Remember, the issue is safety – both the senior’s and other people. If a person can’t make decisions quickly enough or has difficulty seeing, then it is time to stop driving.

What about driver’s licenses? According to SeniorAdvice.com, many seniors will argue they can still drive, because the DMV is still giving them a license. The DMV, however, only sees them for a short period of time and often there is no road test. There is little basis for determining whether they are adequate drivers in a real world environment, so a license doesn’t really mean that much.

Study after study shows that the mere fact a person is older is not an indicator as to whether they can drive. Just because someone is 65 does not mean they should lose their license automatically. The only exception is once a person reaches the age of 80, because people older than 80 get into as many accidents as teenagers.

People age differently. For that reason, it is not possible to set one age when everyone should stop driving. So, how does one know when to stop?

The website HelpGuide.org tells about unsafe driving warning signs:

  • Problems on the road. Abrupt lane changes, braking, or acceleration. Failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes. Drifting into other lanes. Driving on the wrong side of the road or in the shoulder.
  • Trouble with reflexes. Trouble reading signs or navigating directions to get somewhere. Range-of-motion issues (looking over the shoulder, moving the hands or feet). Trouble moving from the gas to the brake pedal, or confusing the two pedals. Slow reaction to changes in the driving environment.
  • Increased anxiety and anger in the car. Feeling more nervous or fearful while driving or feeling exhausted after driving. Frustration or anger at other drivers but oblivious to the frustration of other drivers, not understanding why they are honking. Reluctance from friends or relatives to be in the car with the senior driving
  • Trouble with memory or handling change. Getting lost more often. Missing highway exits or backing up after missing an exit. Trouble paying attention to signals, road signs, pavement markings, or pedestrians.
  • Close calls and increased citations. More frequent “close calls” (i.e., almost crashing), or dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs. Increased traffic tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers.

If some of the descriptions above are apt, it may be time to think about whether or not a senior is still a safe driver.

Some helpful websites are www.seniordrivers.org and www.granddriver.info

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