Deciding Not to Drive
Most people want to continue driving as long as we can do so safely. But, there may come a time when you or someone you know should limit time spent behind the wheel or hang up the keys. This is often an emotional and difficult decision, but it helps to look at things rationally. AARP offers some warning signs that it may be time to limit driving or stop altogether:
- Difficulty staying in the lane of travel
- Frequent dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.
- Trouble judging gaps in traffics at intersections and on highway entrance/exit ramps
- Increased negative interactions with other drivers (i.e., honking, gestures, etc.)
- Reluctance of friends or relatives to ride along
- Getting lost more often
- Difficulty seeing the sides of the road when looking straight ahead
- Trouble paying attention to or violating signals, road signs and pavement markings
- Slower response to unexpected situations
- Increased reliance on mirrors to check behind and alongside the vehicle.
If you notice one or more of these warning signs, have your driving assessed by a professional or attend a driver refresher class. You may also want to consult with your doctor if you are having unusual concentration or memory problems, or other physical symptoms that may be affecting your ability to drive. Use common sense and trust your feelings; if you don't feel safe, don't drive.
If you are concerned that an older loved one is no longer able to drive safely, AARP recommends you bring the subject up in a supportive manner. Talk about things he or she can do to "stay on the road" safely. Often, just talking about the issue can help him or her recognize a need for improvement.
If you feel a loved one's driving ability presents an immediate danger, involve others in the discussion. A doctor, clergyman or friend may have more impact. As a last resort, contact the Ohio Highway Patrol (1-877-7-PATROL) to report dangerous driving. You can do so anonymously and authorities will contact him or her to schedule a driving test to evaluate his or her ability.
How to Help the Older Driver
This chapter from the Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers is published by th American Medical Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U. S. Department of Transportation.