Driver Safety for Older Drivers
Typically obtained in the late teens, the driver’s license is a sign of freedom as a child turns into an adult. It provides them a sense of independence as their ability to get around increases dramatically.
As we age, we usually have similar feelings to that teenager. Older adults can become protective of their license, as it is a large symbol of their independence and autonomy.
In many cases, seniors need their license. If they live in an area that is remote or lacks in public transportation, a car may be their only means of getting around. A senior loved one giving up their license could create difficult circumstances such as the senior relying on someone else for transportation or even having to move.
As hard as it may be, though, some circumstances may necessitate your loved on giving up their keys.
Older Driver Warning Signs
Most older drivers are able to manage the physical requirements of driving, such as shifting gears, pushing the pedals, and turning the wheel.
However, driving is still a more intensive activity than many give it credit for. There are some warning signs you should look out for that indicate your loved one may have to give up their keys.
Frequent Close Calls
One of the worst tragedies would be for your loved one to get into an accident. If you notice more scrapes and bumps on their vehicle, that may signal that they are getting into close calls.
Increase in Traffic Citations
Everyone gets an occasional traffic ticket, but if your loved one is receiving several in a short amount of time, they may be less able to operate a vehicle than before.
Hearing or Vision Issues
If an older driver has to drive closer to traffic signals and signs to see them, it is not safe for them to be driving. Additionally, if they can’t hear horns of emergency vehicle sirens, they should not be operating a vehicle.
Reflexes, Reaction, and Range of Motion
Safe driving requires good reflexes and attention. Being unable to react fast to changes in traffic is dangerous and could even be fatal, as quick reflexes are needed to avoid potential crashes and adjust the car’s course.
Range of motion is also important for checking blind spots and generally being aware of your surroundings. Reduced range of motion that prevents the driver from turning their head makes them unable to safely perform lane changes.
Giving Up the Keys
Your senior driver will most likely feel upset and humiliated about having to give up the keys. It’s important that you understand and be respectful of these feelings. You are asking them to give up a large amount of independence, so imagine how it might feel if you had to do so.
It is important to have this conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. On the bright side, your senior driver may actually feel relief that you bring it up, as them volunteering to give it up could be more embarrassing.