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When should older drivers stop driving?

How old is too old to drive? Many families struggle with deciding when an older family member is no longer to able to drive. Taking the car keys away may not be an easy discussion to have but it is still necessary. Car accidents are a danger to everyone on the road, including older drivers, so it is very important to think about when an older driver should stop driving.

Not being able to drive anymore not only takes away a feeling of independence it can also cause people to feel sad and angry. It is important for family members to have a caring discussion with their older family member about their driving skills and what steps can be taken to make sure everyone's safety is kept in mind.

Older drivers do not pose safety risks until their driving skills are impacted so it is best for families to let older drivers to continue driving if they are capable of doing so and want to continue driving. There are also programs through AARP and other organizations that offer driving courses that allow older drivers to touch up on their driving skills.

Family members can also review an older family member's driving abilities to determine if they should continue driving or not. Warning signs that an older driver should stop driving include:

  • Frequent safety issues that almost cause an accident
  • Unexplained damage to the vehicle that may be caused by hitting objects
  • Getting lost while driving
  • Having a hard time seeing or following traffic or road signs
  • Slower reaction times
  • Becoming distracted
  • Getting traffic citations or warnings

If it is time to discuss taking away the keys, do so in a private, sensitive manner that will reduce any embarrassment or anger. Although the conversation may be difficult, it is best for everyone to address any safety concerns that may be caused by an older person's driving abilities.

Source: The Other Paper, "Advice for families coping with an older driver's changing abilities," Dec. 26, 2012

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