Driving can be a dangerous task for anyone, but as you get older, it can become a more serious issue. It can be hard to let go of the keys. It may seem like you’re giving up some amount of control you once had over your life. But there comes a time when nature takes its toll, and driving becomes too dangerous for you.
There is no universal age when driving becomes unsafe. There are several different health and environmental factors that should all play into the decision to stop getting behind the wheel. But while people may reach this point at different ages, there are consistent signs you are too old to drive.
When Is It Unsafe to Drive?
You may want to stay in the driver’s seat for as long as possible. After all, sitting behind the wheel can make you feel free and independent. If you want to keep driving as long as you can, you can take steps like taking mature drivers’ classes to keep your skills and knowledge in check. But even great drivers’ health deteriorates.
Dangerous drivers are not just a threat to themselves but other people as well. Whether you’re a maturing driver or the child of one, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the warning signs that someone is too old to drive.
Here are some factors and behaviors that show it may be unsafe for you or your loved one to keep driving.
Safe driving requires being able to see and hear clearly. Being unable to read road signs or notice brake lights and sirens can put a driver at risk of collision.
Visual impairment is a common problem, and 65% of people affected by it are aged 50 or older. Hearing loss is another widespread issue in older adults, with most people over 70 experiencing it to some extent. If you’ve been having trouble seeing or hearing, it may be time to stop driving.
Delayed Reaction Time
If you notice a loved one is reacting to things slowly, they may be unfit to drive. Braking late is one sign of delayed reactions in driving that could prove to be dangerous. Quick reflexes are essential in operating a car, and they often go with age.
Poor Driving Habits
Speeding or driving too slowly, drifting into other lanes and mixing up the brake and gas pedals are all common signs of unsafe driving in seniors. If you notice these or similar habits in a loved one, consider talking to them about stopping.
As someone’s driving skills deteriorate, they’ll likely experience more close calls. Small scratches and bumps on cars are a warning sign that they may be getting closer to having a more severe driving accident.
How to Talk About Stopping
If you notice these signs in a loved one, you should talk to them about stepping out from behind the wheel. This can be an awkward conversation, but it’s an important one to have for their safety and the safety of others.
To get your elderly parents to stop driving, first, have a calm but earnest discussion about their health and its impact on their driving. It may help to bring in the opinion of a professional, like their doctor. It can also be helpful to discuss solutions to their transportation needs.
If, after careful discussion and time, they still refuse to quit driving, you may need to take action, such as taking their keys or calling the DMV.
What to Do Next
If you or a loved one has accepted the responsibility to stop driving, there are several ways to get around. If your parent has given up driving and you have the time available, you may consider volunteering to drive them where they need to go.
Alternatively, public transportation might be a valid option if it is available and safe in your city. The recent rise of ride-sharing apps might also prove to be a handy solution. Similarly, delivery services such as Postmates or Doordash can help eliminate the need for driving in the first place.
It can be a hard choice to stop driving, but it doesn’t mark the end of one’s life. There are plenty of ways to keep living an easy and pleasurable life after you put away your keys.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.