A license to drive has long been symbolic of independence. Teenage drivers long for the day they earn their licenses and can take to the road without mom or dad riding shotgun, while aging drivers want to keep driving as long as possible so they can come and go as they please in their golden years.
ThereÕs no formula drivers and their families can employ to determine when itÕs time to take the car keys away from senior citizens. Thankfully, fatal collisions involving older drivers have declined considerably in recent decades. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, collision-related fatalities among drivers ages 70 and older declined by 15 percent between 1997 and 2018. A host of factors have no doubt contributed to that decline, including lane-assist technology and forward collision warning systems that have become standard offerings on many modern vehicles.
As much as technology has helped make driving safer for everyone, aging drivers should still keep an eye out for certain signs that may indicate their skills behind the wheel are diminishing and potentially compromising their ability to drive safely. According to AARP, the following are warning signs of unsafe driving.
¥ Delayed response to unexpected situations: Frequent close calls and narrowly avoiding collisions when other drivers stop suddenly indicate reduced response time that can put aging drivers at an elevated risk of being involved in an accident.
¥ Becoming easily distracted while driving: Distracted driving has become a significant concern in recent decades, but itÕs often associated with young drivers. However, aging drivers who are easily distracted also pose a safety risk to themselves and other motorists.
¥ Decrease in confidence while driving: Only drivers will know if they feel confident enough to drive safely, and itÕs vital that aging drivers be honest with themselves when assessing how they feel when driving.
¥ Having difficulty moving into or maintaining the correct lane of traffic: Lane-assist technology can help drivers recognize how often theyÕre staying in the correct lane of traffic. When the warning bell goes off frequently, it might be time for older drivers to reconsider if itÕs safe for them to be behind the wheel.
¥ Hitting curbs when making right turns or backing up: Hitting curbs when turning or backing up indicates drivers may be having difficulty controlling their vehicles and/or seeing the road, both of which indicate itÕs no longer safe for drivers to get behind the wheel.
¥ Getting scrapes or dents on car, garage or mailbox: These signs also indicate drivers are having trouble controlling their vehicles.
¥ Driving too fast or too slow for road conditions: This indicates drivers are not as alert to their surroundings as they need to be to stay safe on the road.
ItÕs not easy for aging drivers to relinquish their driversÕ licenses. Learning to recognize potential warning signs of unsafe driving can help aging drivers make the safest decisions for themselves, their passengers and their fellow motorists.