Driving may be the elderly’s last option for remaining mobile, independent, and free, especially if they live alone or have no outside support.
Over time, there comes a harsh reality that their driving may seriously endanger other road users aside from injuring themselves. It is important to watch for telltale signs of issues such as small fender benders or traffic tickets so that you can come up with solutions to protect them from hazards or even advise them when it’s time to quit driving.
Here’s a list of eight warning signs that your parents need to stop driving for their own and everyone else’s public safety.
Some Definite Signs That Your Parents Should Get Off the Open Road
Warning Signs Indicating That Your Parents Should Stop Driving
Driving is undoubtedly an essential part of a senior’s life. It helps them run errands, travel from one place to another, or carry out day-to-day tasks, especially if they have no support from professional caregivers or personal drivers.
However, there comes the point where your parents should consider letting others drive for them. In the end, their overall safety should come first.
According to a Federal Highway Administration report, drivers and other road users 65 and older frequently face more vehicle-related fatalities than other age groups.
It is no newsflash that seniors’ mobility gradually declines as they age. Stiff joints, weakened muscles, and vision impairments can hinder their ability to respond accordingly in certain driving situations. For example, stiff joints make turning the wheel more difficult, whereas vision impairments can cause seniors to drive past road signs or even run red lights.
Aside from the high possibility of their driver’s licenses being suspended or revoked, leaving your parents behind the wheel while their health and driving skills are significantly diminishing could result in tragedy and detrimental consequences to other passengers and pedestrians.
As a child or caregiver, you want to ensure that nothing regrettable ever happens to your parents, even if they insist they can still drive.
Here are a few warning signs telling you it may be time for your parents to quit driving.
Their General Health Is Deteriorating
Declining health is one of the most apparent indicators that your parents should stop driving for their own safety. As discussed earlier, changes that happen with aging, whether physical or mental, can alter a senior’s ability to practice safe driving on the road.
For instance, weakened joints and muscles caused by arthritis may position most seniors in a risky situation where they can’t control the steering wheel or brake quickly enough when they need to.
They Are Diagnosed With Age-Related Eye Conditions
Having good vision is crucial for driving. Other than declining general health, poor eyesight is proven to be a direct cause of seniors’ negative driving experiences.
Naturally, with age-related vision diseases and impairments reducing vision function by nearly 25% in seniors aged 65 and above, blurred vision and shrinking vision field (the loss of peripheral or central vision) can cause troubles in recognizing road signs, navigating directions, and making an exit or merge on curved roads.
Glare from the sunlight, headlights, or streetlights could be dangerous if your parents are not wearing vision-correcting glasses. Therefore, age-related eye conditions can make driving a massive challenge for them, whether in broad daylight or at night.
They Have Trouble Hearing
Like vision, hearing also plays a significant role in ensuring all drivers follow specific public safety protocols. So when your parents have hearing loss, it usually means they lose their ability to drive in their best condition.
Sometimes, hearing loss may put them in risky situations, especially while they are on the highway. For example, since they cannot hear, they may keep driving rather than pull over to examine the situation if their car engine fails to operate. Moreover, they may even face hefty penalties if they are not responsive to ambulance or police sirens.
Their Car Has Unexplained Damages
The increased occurrence of unexplained damages speaks volumes about your parents’ driving habits, even if they are not seriously injured or they are lucky enough to avoid a collision.
When your parents return from their errands, inspect the outside of their car for any new scratches. It may be time to sit them down and raise your concern.
Their Insurance Premium Rates Are Increased
Insurance carriers quoting higher rates or even refusing to issue coverage are among the most common indicators that your parents should no longer drive.
Even if they have a reliable or generous insurance provider who assures to cover every ding and dent on their car, several records of driving violations can lead to difficulties obtaining new coverage or even a policy cancellation in the long run.
They Receive More Traffic Tickets or Warnings
Getting more traffic tickets at older ages is as equally concerning as at younger ages. The fact that your parents keep getting tickets or warnings for moving violations could be a tell-tale sign of their declining physical health, or mental health problems including cognitive decline.
These health problems may adversely impact their driving habits, causing them to speed or cross traffic lights even though they don’t intend to.
They Take More Time to React
While on the road, unexpected scenarios may catch even the most skillful drivers off guard. These include pedestrians in the crosswalk, vehicles suddenly stopping or slowing down, or bicycle riders emerging from side streets. Drivers must react as quickly as possible in certain situations since delayed or slow reactions can result in undesired outcomes or injure other road users.
If you notice that your parents no longer respond quickly and have a more challenging time effectively taking charge of their surroundings, voice your concerns to avoid further traffic complications.
Their Friends, Families, and Acquaintances Are Concerned
Suppose you hear complaints and concerns about your parents’ driving from friends, neighbors, families, or acquaintances. It may be worth riding with them to inspect how your parents typically operate their vehicles. This measure will help you develop realistic solutions that won’t disrupt their routines while protecting them from possible fatal crashes on the road.
If you have questions about telltale signs that your parents are too old to drive or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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