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While older drivers may be some of the safest drivers on the road, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and jump at age 80. This could be due to higher risk of medical impairments in the elderly, including vision, memory and psychomotor skills. Additionally, older adults are at a higher risk of injury in a crash and a decreased ability to recover from injury.
However, when older adults stop driving, there are often negative outcomes, including decreased activities outside home, productivity and social engagement.
Knowing when it is no longer safe to drive is difficult. These warning signs may indicate that it is time to stop driving:
- Others (children, spouse, friends, siblings, etc.) suggest that it might be time to limit or stop driving. This warning sign is especially relevant if the suggestions come from multiple people.
- You notice dents or scratches on the car, garage or mailbox that you don’t remember.
Older adults sometimes self-regulate their driving, such as they stop driving at night or they do not drive on busy highways.
The transition from driving to not driving is scary and uncomfortable for all involved. Here are some tips to ease this process.
One way to offset the negative consequences associated with driving retirement is to plan for life after driving.
- While you are still able to drive, consider when you will need to stop.
- What trips will be most important to you and how will you still make them?
- Test out your alternatives to see if they will work for you.
- Try to see a positive reason to give up the keys, such as saving money, spending more time with loved ones who carpool and feeling safer.
- Talk with family and friends about your plans and knowing when it is time.
- Learn more at mobileage.org.
Talk to your doctor about how your medical conditions and prescriptions will affect your driving in both the short-term and long-term.
Do not always be the passenger when you go places with children or friends. Having others ride while you drive can be a good way for you and your loved ones to check on your skills. If you are safe and confident driving yourself, you should be the same driving with others.
Sources: DUI and DWI Foundation, www.duifoundation.org, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, www.iihs.org and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, www.ncadd.org.