Driving gives adults a sense of independence so it’s only natural for us to resist giving up that freedom. But sometimes safety considerations – for the driver and for others – make it necessary to hand over the car keys and move to the passenger seat. If you’re wondering if it’s time to talk to your loved one about his driving ability, consider these facts.
• “Aging pains” have made it difficult for your loved one to perform driving-related tasks. Neck pain or stiffness can make it harder to him to look over his shoulder to change lanes or look left and right at intersections. Leg pain can make it harder for him to adjust the gas and brake pedals, and arm weakness can make it more difficult to turn the steering wheel.
• Diminished hearing and eyesight have affected your loved one’s driving abilities. Safe drivers need to be able to read road signs at least 60 feet down the road and judge distances of other cars and pedestrians. Safe driving also requires drivers be able to hear danger – many times even before they can see it. Poor hearing also slows reaction time in situations where seconds can mean the difference between safe passage and an accident.
Fact: Hearing loss affects 33 percent of drivers over 65.
• Dementia and short-term memory loss have made it more difficult for your loved one to recognize and keep track of road signs and traffic signals as well as all the other cars and pedestrians. Dementia can also cause her to become confused and unable to complete essential driving related tasks, such as shifting gears and changing lanes. She may also have lost her sense of direction, which can be especially dangerous for an older driver.