Your parents helped you gain confidence as you were learning to drive. It was a long time ago, but you still remember how excited you were when they first handed you the keys to one of the family cars for a practice run and how exciting it was the first time you were able to drive without one of them sitting next to you in the passenger seat.
Now you’re noticing problems with their driving that are concerning you. Maybe they’ve just been in a crash that they caused or at least should have been able to prevent. Is it time to ask them to give up their keys?
While some seniors are more than happy not to drive, for many older people, driving means independence. Asking them to give that up can be one of the most difficult parts of living with or near an aging parent.
However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on average, 500 older people are injured each day in crashes. Things like slowed reflexes, vision issues, mobility problems, dementia, medication side effects and more can contribute to crashes by senior drivers.
The NHTSA lists a number of warning signs that an older person may no longer be able to drive safely. Here are some of them to keep in mind as you observe your parent’s driving:
- They drift in to the next lane or straddle lanes.
- They brake or accelerate for no reason.
- They miss stoplights or stop signs.
- They don’t see things off to the side, like pedestrians or bicyclists.
- They become confused about what to do or where they are.
- They’ve come close to having a crash multiple times.
- You’re noticing more scratches and dents on the car.
Solutions and alternatives
These are just some examples. Some issues may be fairly resolvable with new glasses, a change in medication or perhaps a driving course.
However, if you believe it’s no longer safe for your parent to drive, find out what senior transportation services are available in their area. If they’re comfortable using a smartphone, you can consider uploading Uber or Lyft apps on it.
If your parent has been in a crash, it may not necessarily have been their fault. Find out what happened and if they’re entitled to compensation from the other driver’s insurer or through a legal claim.