As you advance in years, you will gradually feel your reflexes slow as your mobility start to decline. Your vision will also deteriorate so much that it will affect your ability to drive.
Therefore, driving fast will begin to cause you anxiety instead of the pleasure it once had for you. At some point, you have to give up your license because driving by yourself can become more and more dangerous for you and other road users. Giving it up could be the safest way out of danger, even if you have always been a skilled driver.
Here are the Senior Driving Statistics Worth Considering, according to AAA:
- Drivers over 75 years cause more car crashes than drivers between 35-54 years of age.
- Older drivers have higher fatality rates because they are more fragile.
- 8 out of 10 people in their 70s are arthritic, coupled with crippling inflammation of the joint. The pains associated with these make it hard for you to turn, twist, or flex.
- Close to 6000 senior drivers lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2014.
- In 2009, 58% of fatal accidents involving aging drivers had the drivers themselves to blame for their deaths.
- More than 75% of aging drivers are on some medications. However, only ⅓ understand the effects of their medications on driving.
- Seniors cannot effectively grip and turn the steering wheel. Moreover, they have difficulty opening the doors or windows.
- Seniors have difficulty pressing the brakes or accelerator due to weaker muscles. Their range of motion and flexibility is limited.
But what is the average age most seniors stop driving altogether and resign to being driven whenever they go anywhere?
There is no clear answer; aging affects adults differently. That is, some people lose their abilities earlier than others. So you have to determine when to stop driving based on your condition.
Some elderly drivers in the United States continue to drive well past their 9th birthday! The time you stop driving should be determined by your performance on the road, not age. But when you get to 85 years of age, it’s time to start preparing for life away from the steering wheel, even if you feel you are fit as a fiddle. It is less safe to continue driving after you turn 85 years.
Signs That You Should Retire From Driving
Here are some signals that you should stop driving due to old age:
- Being unable to read the traffic signals – If you cannot read the traffic signals correctly, you will cause an accident sooner or later.
- Driving too fast or too slow for the occasion.
- Diminishing confidence while on the wheel.
- Side-swiping other cars- If you swipe other cars on the sides more often than you used to, you better quit before it’s too late. Being involved in minor accidents more often is tied to this point.
- Finding yourself lost in areas you are familiar with so that you have to call a family member for directions or depend on GPS.
- Hearing your friends and family tell you that you should drive less often. Others may not tell you directly, but would be concerned when you are to drive away with children! If the children are not safe with you behind the wheel, then you are not fit to be behind the wheel.
- When you suffer from old-age health conditions like dementia.
- Forgetting to give the signal when switching lanes.
I’m Aging, But I Still Love Driving. What Do I Do?
A good number of elderly drivers are not willing to hang their boots even when the family voices their concerns about their safety on the road. This is because driving by themselves gives them a sense of independence, control, and pleasure.
If you love driving but old age is limiting your driving abilities, you can still enjoy driving by following these tips:
- Drive through familiar areas near your home.
- Do not drive at night or through harsh weather.
- Avoid expressways.
- Avoid distractions at all cost. For instance, do not text or make a call while driving. Also, avoid conversations with your passengers.
What to Do After You Stop Driving Due to Old Age
At some point, you will have to stop driving entirely. Nobody can accurately pinpoint when that will be, but you should mentally prepare for such a time.
Each year, many elderly drivers give it up and find alternative ways of transportation.
This is how to live your life when you can no longer drive:
- Use mass transit to move around.
- Ask friends or family to drive you to meetings, functions, or whichever appointment.
- Only buy medications, groceries, or meals from the on-demand delivery stores.
- Try at-home providers—for instance, mobile hairdressers.
What If I’m Concerned a Family Member Is Too Old to Be Still Driving?
When you are concerned a loved one is no longer safe driving, you should urge him to request a driving evaluation. This is usually performed even at a rehabilitation center for the elderly, but you can go for it at a driving school or NYDMV if you are here in New York.
If your loved one insists on driving even after the driving evaluation indicates he is no longer fit for driving, you now have to disable the car or take it away.
Remember that asking a loved one to stop driving is an emotional discussion, so try to go about it with sufficient tact. Be respectful to the elderly; don’t make them feel useless and miserable. Many of them have been driving for decades, so stopping can create a massive vacuum in their already slowed lives.
If you go about it the right way, they can self-evaluate, thus saving you from having to take them to evaluators. Present facts as they are, but lovingly: tell them why they should finally surrender their driving license, and how you plan to help them run errands, etc. Be compassionate and balanced, not too legalistic. Don’t be like, “you will soon cause an accident, and then you will spend the rest of your life in jail…”
Wrapping it Up
Regardless of your career, you are going to retire someday. You should be ready to accept realities as gracefully as possible so as not to give your loved ones undue pressure.
It would help if you were the first to note that your days on the wheel are coming to an end. Stop driving with your dignity intact. There are still other exciting ways to spend your sunset years.
If you are aging, but you feel a driving refresher course is all you need for now, you can join Pierre Paul Driving School.