Having a car not only offers flexibility to move around but also comforts people psychologically. This is more evident at an older age. Most of them have been driving for such a long time that imagining a life without a vehicle in disposal is hard. Again, getting around without private transportation is much harder in rural areas.
Giving it up at an older age would mean losing flexibility and independence. It would be a humbling experience and hard realization of the new reality. It would mean that they are not self-reliant anymore and this can affect self-esteem. According to a recent AAA study, 89% of surveyed over the age of 65 stated that surrendering licenses would be a huge problem. That is why it is important to improve on it and keep auto insurance costs under control to prolong driving.
On the other hand, it is important not to compromise on security while still keeping the keys to an auto. Unfortunately, older bodies are not as able anymore. Certain physical conditions and illnesses have to be taken into account and find ways to eliminate or reduce problems. Self-policing, avoiding rush hours and nighttime journeys can eliminate some of the risks.
However, medical help and outside assistance or interference may be required to deal with some of the issues. The fact is that it would be highly risky to carry on when you are diagnosed with certain conditions. Some people may accept their new position easier than others. And in some cases friends, family members and medical practitioners may have to step in and have a talk about stopping.
These issues and solutions are discussed in detail below.
How to Decide If It Is Time to Give up
“The good news is that people who keep track of changes in their eyesight, physical fitness and reflexes may be able to adjust their habits so they stay safe on the road.” – Quote from the US Department of Transportation/NHTSA
Aging is a highly personal process and its effects can vary widely. It may be time for a 70-year-old to give up driving privileges while a 90-year-old may be able to carry on. Generally speaking, people of an advanced age are more likely to get involved in automobile accidents and receive tickets for traffic related offenses. Moreover, their bodies tend to suffer more serious injuries in crashes and take longer to recover in comparison to youngsters.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, they are more likely to suffer from accidents. Currently seniors account for less than 10% of the population. However, they are responsible for 14% of all traffic accident related deaths and 17% of all pedestrian fatalities. It is clear from these figures that not only controlling a vehicle becomes suspect but also risks involved with walking on the roads increases after a while.
There is no easier way of saying it. If you live long enough there will be a point you need to consider hanging the car keys. Or you need to consider if you need to have a conversation about it with a relative. Here are some points to consider in the process of deciding if you are too old to drive.
Vision: Eyesight naturally deteriorates with age. In addition, conditions like cataracts and glaucoma can worsen eyesight to a point that operating anything becomes highly dangerous. It is essential that people should increase the frequency of eye tests, as years go by.
Strength and Agility: There will be a point to accept that they can no longer handle the wheel, brakes and maintain focus. If someone is no longer physically active and has trouble with basic tasks in and around the house it may be time. Keeping an active lifestyle and exercising can help older drivers remain able a little longer.
Medications: Certain drugs are strong enough to influence abilities of a fully abled body. As the years advance, they take more and more medications and frail bodies can be under the influence of them pretty easily. They and caregivers should always check the side effects of medicines they take to determine when they are most affected. If you are taking several doses of one of those medicines a day you should consider other modes of transit while you are using it. Furthermore, cumulative and collective effects should be taken into account when looking into it.
Accidents: Suddenly starting to get into a few fender benders is a sign something isn’t right. This would be a good time to have a look at the root causes of those incidents to determine if it is time to take the car off the road completely. If not, you should consider finding ways of reducing accidents by self-policing and being defensive. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time that small crashes will turn into fatal collisions.
Dementia: It isn’t a good idea when someone suffers from any level of dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia can suddenly lapse into an episode so it isn’t worth the risk.
Confidence: One or combination of the above factors can make someone lose confidence. Some are no longer confident in their abilities but they are too proud to admit it. This may be a time someone else steps in and explains the risks. It would always be best if this decision is taken by the person rather than taken on their behalf by someone else.
Coming to the conclusion that you or a loved one shouldn’t drive anymore is only one part of the solution. Next step is to adapt to the new reality. You should look at transport alternatives moving forward. You should check the bus/train routes, elderly facilities and consider joining forces with neighbors and other friends to arrange private hire. You can join family members in shopping and other outings too.
Experts suggest looking at several signals to notice negative changes;
- The person might show indications of reduced vision, such as difficulties in reading road signs or unwillingness to travel at night.
- Be on the lookout for signs of dementia, such as getting lost on a familiar street or having trouble following navigational directions.
- Pay attention to verbal signals about slowed reflexes, such as comments about people or objects seeming to appear suddenly out of nowhere.
- Identify mistakes; including hitting a curb, missing a turn, or doing anything that is risky to bystanders or people in the car.
- Finally, it may be time for the senior to relinquish the car keys if there is a recent history of involvement in multiple accidents.
Senior Driving Assessment Resources
One great thing is that they are good at assessing the situation and making adjustments. Quite a few of them choose to avoid rush hour traffic, nights and long hours in automobiles. Other precautions like choosing the right car and getting comfortable in it helps as well. There are several ways from professional assessments to self-assessments and getting the family involved. These links can help you further.
When to Have the Talk with Parents
Illness & Ageing Related Help
Effects of it and some of the illnesses can be managed to a degree. However, it is essential to understand what you can and cannot manage. If an illness causes seizures you need to think about what would happen if one of those seizures started when you are on the highway. There are certain aspects and types of illnesses that may prevent you from operating a motor vehicle completely.
This is something you need to discuss with a physician and other professionals before making a decision. Below pages can be useful in recognising the symptoms and finding a solution even if it means handing over the keys. It is worth noting that most of the age and illness related problems are successfully managed by millions of motorists.
Alzheimer’s Association Dementia
NHTSA Resources for Older Drivers with Illness
Vision Health Information from CDC
Alternative Transport for Elders
It doesn’t mean that you are housebound just because you have no access to a private automobile anymore. This is an important point to take into consideration when making a decision. You should check all the alternatives carefully and establish workable mobility options. It may even work cheaper to use services like Uber for some motorists, considering how expensive gas and car insurance are.
Improving Safety by Learning Defensive Driving
When you know it is slipping, it may be time to brush up your knowledge, gain new perspective and learn to be defensive. This is a good way of reducing accidents and getting automobile insurance savings. Generally, it is not difficult to find a local course and most states require insurers to offer discounts for successful completion.
Also, distracted driving becomes an even bigger problem when reflex times are getting longer and longer. You should make sure that you don’t engage in activities that would distract you behind the steering wheel. Below links can help people who are looking to improve.
National Safety Council Training Centers
Other Senior Resources
Here are some other helpful links. You can find out about the statistical facts, insurance implications and technologies that can help you below.
Elderly motorists should avoid hitting the road when they are not at their best, too. It can wait when they feel sleepy or sick or have been recently injured. Both hands should be on the steering wheel in order to react to emergencies as fast as they can. Furthermore, they should always keep at least two-car length distance from a preceding car.
Loved ones can help them reach to maximum effectiveness by making sure that the seat, steering wheel, and mirrors are appropriately adjusted. Family and friends can also monitor elderly loved ones on a regular basis to assess continuity.