For the second year running, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported a record number of elderly drivers were licensed to drive. In fact, there are more elder drivers on the roads than young drivers. Almost 42 million drivers are over the age of 65. The number of drivers between the ages of 75 and 79 increased by 4.9 percent in 2016.
Older drivers aren’t always unsafe drivers. Advancements in vehicle technology help prevent crashes caused by blind spots, sudden braking, or obstacles in the roadway. Elderly drivers are more likely to wear their seatbelts, but IIHS.org reports that elderly drivers are more likely to be in fatal crashes.
How do you know if it’s safe for your parent to drive? Here are some tips that help you decide when it’s time to take away driving privileges.
Take Your Mom or Dad for an Eye Exam
See what an eye doctor thinks. If your parent’s vision declined, there may be limitations on when it’s safe to drive. Your mom may be fine driving during the day but not after the sun sets. Your dad’s peripheral vision skills may have declined to a point that he cannot safely see what’s coming up to the side of him.
Talk to His or Her Doctor
Ask the doctor how safe it is for your mom or dad to drive. There may be side effects of the prescription medication that make driving unsafe. Common side effects that affect driving include drowsiness and lightheadedness. It may be ill-advised to drive within a few hours of taking the daily dose.
Go For a Drive Together
Go out and have your mom or dad do the driving. Keep an eye on their reaction times, how thoroughly they check blind spots, and how well they stay in the travel lane. Also, check to see if they’re braking at the proper distance, driving too fast or slow, and using the brake pedal, clutch, and accelerator without struggling to move from one to the other.
Schedule a Driving Assessment
Talk to the local DMV and see if they do elderly driving assessments. Some do offer services of that nature or can recommend a class for your mom or dad. Let that driving teacher assess your parent’s abilities.
If you do find it’s time to take your mom’s or dad’s car keys away, make sure you have an option for transportation. You don’t want to stop your parent from going out. Public transportation may help, but a caregiver may be the better option.
Weekly or daily visits from elder care providers offer more than transportation services. Your parent gets a friend to talk to or join for games or walks. Caregivers can cook meals and help with light housework. That’s just the beginning. Learn more about our elder care services that are available in your area.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elder Care Services in Medfield MA, or anywhere in Eastern Massachusetts, please call the caring staff at CARE Resolutions – (508) 906-5572.