Elderly drivers: balancing safety and independence

Tuesday April 17, 2012

As a generation ages, we will see more seniors behind the wheel, and potentially getting involved in collisions. When should you tell a loved one that they are no longer be capable of driving? Are there warning signs that cognitive and physical health are deteriorating in a way that makes a driver unable to manage a vehicle?

Lawmakers, car manufacturers, insurance companies, caretakers, as well as loved ones are now hoping to plan ahead and help elderly drivers make a transition if they are no longer able to drive. With more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 everyday, 1 in 6 Connecticut citizens will be in retirement before the year 2020. According to the American Automobile Association, most of these senior citizens will still be driving.

According to experts, it is best to consider other options before it is too late. Many families will wait until an accident or a series of fender-benders before suggesting that a loved one turn over their keys. Most states do require that licenses are renewed in person. Some states have other requirements, including renewal every 6 years and additional vision tests.

Every person ages differently, so there is no “right time” to stop driving. Many older drivers are actually more responsible and less likely to cause an accident than drivers in their 30s. It is best if loved ones observe driving capabilities and make sure that they are able to keep up with traffic, follow signs and remember familiar routes. If there are signs of failure or capacity, it may be time to explore other transportation options.

Fox News, “Diminished motor skills: ‘Silver tsunami’ of elderly drivers prompts tough decisions,” Joshua Rhett Miller, April 16, 2012.

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