Should YOU Be Driving

No one wants to give up the freedom of driving their own car, but there may come a time when we must forego freedom for our own and other's safety. Decisions about continuing to drive should not be based on age alone, but on an accurate assessment of changes in vision, physical fitness and reflexes. However, most of us need help in making such an assessment.

Children of aging parents must be objective when viewing a parent's driving ability. They need to review their own attitudes about older drivers and make judgments based on unbiased observations. Unarguably, accidents and traffic violations that result in tickets are strong indicators that it's time to surrender the keys. Responsible adult children can take steps to assess their parent's driving ability.

Check out the car

Does the driver see easily over the dashboard and his/her feet reach the pedals easily? Are the steering wheel, mirrors and seats properly adjusted? Are windows and mirrors free of clutter? Is the car in good operating condition?

Be alert for early warning signs:

  • Uneven starts or jerky stops
  • Failure to signal before changing lanes
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Near misses
  • Reacting slowly to traffic conditions
  • Failure to see or respond to road signs and traffic signals
  • Listing across traffic lanes
  • Driving too fast or too slow
  • Problems making turns; hitting curbs or blocking intersections when turning left.

Get input from others

In some cases, you may need input from others - doctor, minister or family friend - who can honestly speak with the driver about the problems and options.

This issue should be approached carefully, and alternatives need to be in place to make the transition easier for the aging driver.

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