Do driving skills of elderly drivers decline with age? Yes, but just like other age groups, driving skills vary from one elderly person to another. Telling elderly drivers that it may be time to stop driving can be one of the most difficult milestones for caregivers. Driving represents freedom and independence for the elderly — the ability to visit friends, go to the movies and shop — without relying on anyone else.
Revoking an elderly person’s drivers license over a certain age is not an acceptable solution. Elderly driving skills vary widely at all ages. It is unfair to punish most elderly drivers for problems caused by only a few drivers.
When the question of declining driving abilities becomes personal, the issues involved with elderly driving are very emotional. Elderly drivers might get defensive — even angry — when the subject of their driving abilities is raised. Thus, include the elderly person in the decision-making process if at all possible, rather than dictate a decision to them. It can also be very helpful if both you and your elderly loved one discuss the matter together with family members, doctors, and other people they respect, such as clergy and friends. But, despite your best efforts, you may still have to make the decision to stop for them for their own safety and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.
A Checklist on Safe Elderly Driving
- Be aware of these telltale signs of decline in the elderly person’s driving abilities:
- Drive at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow?
- Ask passengers to help check if it is clear to pass or turn?
- Appear drowsy, confused or frightened?
- Respond slowly to or not notice pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers?
- Ignore, disobey or misinterpret street signs and traffic lights?
- Fail to yield to other cars or pedestrians who have the right-of-way?
- Fail to judge distances between cars correctly?
- Become easily frustrated and angry?
- Have one or more near accidents or near misses?
- Drift across lane markings or bump into curbs?
- Forget to turn on headlights after dusk?
- Have difficulty with glare from oncoming headlights, streetlights, or other bright or shiny objects, especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
- Have difficulty turning their head, neck, shoulders or body while driving or parking?
- Ignore signs of mechanical problems, including underinflated tires?
- Have too little strength to turn the wheel quickly in an emergency situation?
- Get lost repeatedly, even in familiar areas?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes,” you should ask if any other issues are effecting their driving and potentially discuss limiting driving responsibilities.
If you are dealing with a car accident, let us help! Call Jacobson, Schrinsky & Houck in Milwaukee today at (414) 223-4444 to have one of our caring lawyers come out to meet you.
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