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June 21, 2017

How to Tell If You Should Stop or Cut Back on Driving

While many older drivers continue to navigate the roads safely and well, statistics show that car accidents of significance increase when people aged 65 and older are involved. How do you know when to begin to cut back on driving? When to stop driving entirely?

In Canada, doctors must report concerns they have about a patient’s driving ability, but that’s not the case in the United States. So people in the United States often continue to drive until a friend or family member intervenes and persuades him or her to hang up the keys. There are ways, however, to be proactive and make the decision logically before an intervention is necessary.

HelpGuide.org shares 10 warning signs to help you decide when you should begin to limit your driving or even stop entirely. These signs also can be useful if you’re concerned about someone you love. The first warning sign is if close calls and near crashes are happening frequently. Another is if the car is becoming dented or scraped as you drive too closely to curbs, garage doors and other tight spots. A third? If you’re getting traffic tickets or even warnings from law enforcement more often.

Are you finding yourself getting lost more frequently? If so, is it because you’re traveling to new places? That can be perfectly normal. But if you’re getting lost in what was once familiar territory, this is another warning sign. Is it becoming more difficult to concentrate while driving? That’s yet another sign — and we recommend that you read the entire HelpGuide.org article for even more warning signs to monitor.

Aftermarket Add-Ons

Sometimes, you can purchase products to help make driving easier. These include oversized mirrors that increase sight lines to provide you with a better rear view. They are typically easy to install, being hooked over the rearview mirror in your car. You also can add a swivel seat to your car to make it easier for you to get in and out of your vehicle. Seat belt handles allow you to more easily reach your seat belt and put it on.

Technology to the Rescue

Increasing numbers of technologies are being developed to help older drivers — and, because the 70-plus demographic is expected to increase from 30.1 million in 2013 to 53.7 million in 2030, it’s likely that this technology influx will continue. A helpful article in Edmunds.com breaks down these features into three areas: safety, ergonomics and comfort. The article lists numerous examples; here are a few highlights.

First, driver assists use sensors and cameras to alert drivers to potential problems. Lane-departure warning technology, for example, lets a driver know when he or she has driven outside of the appropriate lane, sounding an alarm and providing visual warnings. If a car also has lane-departure intervention, the car is automatically returned to the appropriate lane if the driver does not react in time. Cameras with 360-degree views can help drivers to park. Here, you can see which 10 technologies AARP believes are most helpful for older drivers.

These add-ons and technologies will not extend a person’s driving time indefinitely but they can extend the amount of time in which someone can safely drive. If you have concerns about your ability to drive — or friends and family members do — it also makes sense to discuss the issue with your doctor.

If it’s time to hang up your keys, it may feel limiting, especially at first, but there are numerous options to keep you on the road.


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