When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

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When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

by SarahD on June 24, 2011

At What Age Should Elders Stop Driving?

We’ve all seen those crazy stories on the news about people who are too old to be driving themselves around anymore.  You know the ones, where they accidentally hit the gas instead of the break and ended up plowing through a street fair, taking out vendors and their wares alike.  Or you’ve seen them on the road, driving 10-15 miles per hour under the speed limit, squinting over their steering wheels.  While our society places a premium on the rights of the individual, including the freedom to drive well in old age, the truth is that there is a point at which a person is no longer able to effectively follow the rules of the road, whether because of some infirmity (poor eyesight, for example) or simply because reaction time has slowed to the point where avoiding an accident is dubious.  But how do you know when you’re too old to drive?  Here are a few signs.

  1. Severe arthritis.  Driving doesn’t require a lot of movement or strength, but some amount is certainly necessary.  If arthritis has made it impossible to grip the steering wheel, quickly switch from the gas pedal to the brake, or turn your head in order to check your blind spot, then you may be posing a hazard not only to yourself but to everyone else on the road.
  2. Loss of vision.  There are a lot of ways to correct poor vision.  Glasses, contacts, and laser resurfacing may all be used to improve vision.  But they can only do so much.  At some point, if your vision is starting to go and you can no longer adequately correct it, you need to throw in the towel and admit that it’s time to give up driving.
  3. Medications.  As people get older, they naturally have to take more medications.  Whether you’ve added a slew of vitamins to your medicine cabinet or your ailments demand something stronger (over-the-counter or prescriptions drugs) it behooves you to pay attention to the side effects.  Some medications cause drowsiness or fatigue all on their own while others can have adverse results due to drug interactions.  Either way, you need to consult with your physician every time you add a new medication in order to find out if you can safely operate heavy machinery (i.e. your car).
  4. Reaction time.  This is the biggest all-around problem for senior drivers; your reaction time simply isn’t as good as it used to be.  The issue could be slow to develop or it could come on suddenly, but the truth is that it’s not something that can be easily treated.  And considering how detrimental it could be on the road, it’s a sign that you need to give up your license and find another mode of transportation.
  5. The advice of others.  You might think you’re doing a peachy job of operating your vehicle, but if multiple people are telling you otherwise you might want to listen.  This advice could come from family members and friends, your doctor, police officers, or other drivers honking at you more frequently than they used to.  If enough people tell you (in one way or another) that your driving is poor, then perhaps you’d better take the hint before something bad happens.

Sarah Danielson writes for CT Limo where you can find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs.

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