Nearly everyone with an aging parent asks this question at some point. If your parent drives too fast, makes poor decisions, or reacts slower than before, you might have concerns about whether it is safe for him to be driving. Should you take away your parent’s car keys? If you fear that he might hurt himself or someone else, the answer might be yes.
Are You Overreacting About Your Aging Parent’s Driving?
First, check to see if you are overreacting. Talk with people who have ridden with her recently. Let them know that you are worried about her safety and want to make sure you are not overprotective. You should realize that some of her friends might feel disloyal if they suggest that she should not be driving. Therefore, stress the fact that your concern is for her safety and the safety of others.
Do Older Americans Have Many Accidents on the Road?
Yes. In fact, according to the insurance industry, only the youngest, least experienced drivers have more fatal crashes per mile driven than seniors. Insurance companies have partnered with local governments and organizations like AARP, to provide programs that help older Americans recognize when their driving skills have diminished and learn how to adapt their driving accordingly.
Some states have legislation that helps them find, evaluate, and control older drivers who refuse to take appropriate steps to change their driving behaviors. Nearly half of all states now make seniors renew their driver’s license more frequently than other age groups. Many require them to come in and pass a vision test for renewal, instead of renewing by mail or online. Some require a road test after a certain age, and one makes elders get the approval of their doctor to renew.
Signs That It Might Be Time to Take Away the Keys
he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a free tip sheet for people who might need to talk with a loved one about their driving. They suggest that you might need to have “The Talk” if you notice:
- He has new dents and dings on his car.
- She is getting traffic citations.
- He has had a recent accident or near miss.
- She is taking medicine that can impair her ability to drive safely.
- He has a medical condition, like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, or another illness that can impact his driving ability.
How Will Your Parent React When You Talk to Them About Their Driving?
Some older adults get defensive or even angry because they do not want to lose their independence or admit that they are losing some life skills. Others are relieved because they were afraid they would be in a horrible crash one day. There are also some who accept the idea of not driving when you arrange alternative transportation options for them. With all the ride-share options now available like Uber and Lyft, it is much easier than ever for a person to get around without driving.
If you are worried about your aging parent driving safely, talk with a local elder law attorney to discover your options. The laws are different everywhere, so they may not be the same in your state as the general law, which is what this article discusses.
HuffPost. “Taking Away Your Parents’ Car Keys.” (accessed April 4, 2018) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/taking-away-your-parents-car-keys_b_12221576.html
Insurance Information Institute. “Background on: Older Drivers.” (accessed April 5, 2018) https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-older-drivers
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Talking About Driving With an Older Drivers.” (accessed April 5, 2018) https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/tip_0.pdf