As your parents get older, their physical and/or mental abilities may begin declining. These abilities may decline so much so that they can no longer safely operate a vehicle. If you have an aging parent and notice any of the signs below, it may be time for him or her to stop driving.
Accident. Some accidents may not be caused by your elderly parent, such as being rear-ended by another driver. However, if the accident is the elder’s fault, you may need to take his keys away. He may be at a higher risk of causing another accident.
Traffic tickets. Elderly do not tend to drive aggressively. So if your elder parent receives a traffic ticket, it may be caused by inattentiveness, rather than aggression. He or she may be having trouble with traffic signs and standard driving rules.
Jump in car insurance rates. Your elderly parent may not mention to you any accidents or tickets. However, he or she might complain about a jump in insurance rates. There can be other reasons why an insurance company raises premiums but check to see if he or she was in an accident or got any tickets first.
Damage to the vehicle. Damage to your parent’s car could be from minor collision he or she didn’t tell you about. Ask your parent about any scrapes or dents on the car. Look at any fences or mailboxes near the driveway to check for damage there. It may be that your parent is struggling to back up or turn into the driveway.
Marks along driveway. Tire marks alongside your parent’s driveway may mean he or she is having trouble pulling into and backing out of the driveway. If the tire marks continue regularly, it may be that your parent is struggling with basic driving tasks.
Anxiousness about driving. Your elderly parent may become anxious about driving for good reason. He or she may be anxious about driving in general or only anxious during certain times of the day or certain weather conditions. If your parent is anxious only at certain times, then he or she may limit driving to daylight hours or good road conditions. However, if your parent is anxious about driving all the time, then it may be that your parent realizes he or she can no longer drive safely and should stop driving.
Delayed reactions. Go for a ride with your elderly parent driving. Older drivers should still react fairly quickly to changing road conditions. If you notice he or she is having delayed reactions, it may be because he or she is having trouble seeing, hearing, or simply paying attention to the road.
If you notice any of these signs, it may be time for a serious conversation with your elderly parent. Being alert to how they are driving can be a matter of life and death. However, telling your parent that he or she needs to stop driving is a difficult task. Read some tips and suggestions to help you at How to Get an Elderly Parent to Stop Driving.