There is no question automobiles give us incredible freedom. Having the ability to go to the store, doctor, or out to eat brings joy to all of us. As we age, it is normal for our driving abilities to change. Few people like the idea of depending on others or relying on public transportation. However, when age diminishes the ability of seniors to drive, endangering themselves and others, it is time to start making hard decisions.

Auto insurance companies understand this problem; accident rates increase for people over the age of 65. As our baby boomers move into retirement there will be more senior citizens on the road. The decision to know when to stop driving can be a wrenching one for all family members.

Most experts agree that age alone is not a predictor of poor driving skills. There are a number of factors you may want to consider when dealing with senior drivers:

  • General health- Often physical or mental impairment brings compromised decision making ability.
  • Medications- Certain medications or combinations of medications can affect senses and reflexes.
  • Eyesight- Poor eyesight is a major contributor to decreased driving ability.
  • Hearing impairment- Few people age without some deterioration in their hearing. Hearing loss can undermine ability to hear horns, sirens, and other sounds that would normally put someone on notice.

Signs it is time to hide the keys:

  • Slow responses
  • Lots of dents on the car
  • Increase in accidents in a short period of time
  • Driving angry
  • Decrease in confidence while driving
  • Difficulty turning to see when backing up
  • Riding the brake
  • Easily distracted while driving
  • Incorrect signaling
  • Hitting curbs
  • Failure to notice traffic signs
  • Driving at inappropriate speeds
  • Difficulty maintaining lane position

We recommend that you drive with the seniors in your life from time to time to see how they respond in different driving situations. Start a discussion early about driving safety and even provide resources to read. Their safety and the safety of others should come first.