One of the great things about living in this country is the incredible independence with which we live our lives. For many people, this independence revolves around being able to travel in a car. It’s not easy to give that freedom up, even if you or a loved one shouldn’t be driving any longer.
Mandatory Driving Tests For The Elderly
Driving tests for the elderly are becoming mandatory across the country, but some say not quickly enough. Moreover, most states only require tests at age 75 when chances are the damage has already been done. It is infinitely better for any driver to hang up the keys on their own terms rather than being forced to by a state mandate or court order.
How to Approach "The Talk":
One of the hardest things to do is to confront a loved one about driving. Hold the conversation face-to-face rather than through the phone. Remember to be non-accusatory and objective; use “I” instead of “you” (“I wouldn’t want you to hurt someone innocent” rather than “You’re going to hurt someone”).
The AARP has a list of 10 warning signs that should lead to the discontinuation of elderly driving; use these as resources to back up your argument if and where they apply.
Almost crashing, with frequent “close calls”
Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, or the like
Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings
Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving your foot from the gas to the brake pedal; confusing the two pedals
Misjudging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance and exit ramps
Experiencing road rage or having other drivers frequently honk at you
Easily becoming distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving
Having a hard time turning around to check over your shoulder while backing up or changing lanes
Receiving traffic tickets or “warnings” from traffic or law enforcement officers in the last year or two
Even if your loved ones will not give up their keys, hopefully they will modify their driving to less their chances of an accident (no more road trips, night driving, etc.). But whatever they do or do not agree to, start planning alternative transportation so a plan is in place should they need it. That might also facilitate a successful key-hang-up later down the road.
These are intensely personal issues, and each individual and each family is unique. When we give up driving, we give up the independence that so often defines us. Often there are no easy answers, but questions should still be asked...especially if there are warning signs.