Driving is a vital part of nearly every American’s life. Remember when you received your first driver’s license? The ability to drive represents freedom and independence. It is understandable that for the elderly the thought of losing the ability to drive equals the loss of freedom and independence. Isolation and loss of independence can be devastating for an elderly parent.
The decision about whether an elderly parents is safe to drive is a difficult one. To help you determine whether a loved one is still safe to drive the Florida Department of Transportation provides the following warning signs that indicate an elderly parent or loved one may be an unsafe driver:
- Does your loved one seem uncomfortable and nervous or fearful while driving?
- Are there unexplained dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.?
- Does your loved one seem to have difficulty staying in his/her driving lane?
- Has your loved one gotten lost in what should be a familiar area of town?
- Does your loved one seem to have difficulty paying attention to signals, road signs and/or pavement markings?
- Does your loved one seem to exhibit a slower response time to unexpected driving situations?
- Does your loved one have medical conditions or is on medication that may be affecting his/her ability to safely handle an automobile?
- Has your loved one experienced a “close call” recently such as almost crashing?
- Does your loved one seem to have difficulty judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on entrance/exit ramps?
- Does your loved one seem to exhibit anger or hostility towards other drivers?
- Have other friends or relatives expressed concern about your loved one driving?
- Does your loved one seem distracted or unable to concentrate while driving?
- Has your loved one received frequent traffic tickets or warnings by law enforcement officers in the last year or two?
If your elderly loved one is an unsafe driver, what should you do? In my next blog installment, we will address options for your loved one if one or more of the above warning signs are present and how you can begin a thoughtful conversation with your loved one to address your concerns.