As we progress into our senior years it can be difficult to alter lifelong patterns – especially those that we associate with freedom and independence. Driving is one such activity that many aging adults are hesitant to give up. When is the right time to become a passenger?
Experts suggest that the main considerations when debating whether or not to give up your driver’s license are related to cognitive function and physical capabilities. Consider these questions:
- Do you become disoriented, confused or overwhelmed when you drive?
- Do you misread traffic signs or forget their meaning?
- Do you get negative messaging from other drivers?
- Have your family members expressed concern about your driving skills?
- Do you find simple movements such as swiveling your head to shoulder check, more challenging?
- Do you notice a slower reflex when attempting to brake on demand?
- Has your strength declined such that your grip of the steering wheel is diminished?
- Is your eyesight poor – impacting your day or night vision?
- Is your hearing compromised – impacting your ability to hear emergency vehicles?
- Do you have a chronic condition that requires medication and predisposes you to erratic spasms or seizures?
If your answers to the above indicate that it might be time to stop driving, consider taking transit, hiring a driver, or utilizing some of the complementary driving programs for seniors in your area, such as the Driving Angels. If you come to the conclusion that you are comfortable with continuing to driving, here are some tips from Mayo Clinic experts to help keep you and other people on the road safe.
- Plan carefully – know where you are going and how to get there.
- Drive only in optimum conditions – choose an alternate method of transportation when road conditions are poor or weather is unfavourable.
- Stay in shape – do physical activities to maintain optimum arm and neck strength.
- Have your vision and hearing tested regularly
- Manage your medications – don’t drive if you’re dizzy or drowsy.
- Update your driving skills – this might even earn you a discount on insurance.
- Consult your doctor – if you have any concerns, ask your doctor for advice.
Not sure you are the driver you once were? You are not alone.
Read about others who are also evaluating their driving ability – with the desire to keep themselves and others safe at the senior driver evaluation experience, CAA/AMA.