To Drive or Not to Drive. That is the Question.
When should an older person stop driving? There is no specified age limit for driving. Senior drivers are usually prudent drivers. They are the most experienced drivers on the road and are most often the safest. Many are more than capable of driving well into their 90’s. However, when family members notice that their loved one’s physical and mental abilities have declined, they often become concerned about their safety behind the wheel. As eyesight declines, reflexes slow, judgment lags, and memory fades, safety behind the wheel becomes a big concern.
Most seniors recognize when they should no longer drive. Some voluntarily sell their vehicles and stop driving. But, occasionally seniors don’t recognize their lack of judgment, failing memory, and poor decision-making abilities.
What are the warning signs that a person’s ability to drive is decreasing? The list below points out a few warning signs:
- The senior becomes lost frequently
- The senior needs increasing amounts of direction from passengers. This often includes directions in areas frequently travelled by the senior, and reminders from passengers that the light is green or they are at a stop sign not a stoplight.
- The senior may also be losing confidence in driving or demonstrating unusual anxiety while driving.
- The senior has been responsible for recent collisions. Alternatively, the senior is experiencing many near misses or traffic citations.
What can families do when they think it’s unsafe for their loved one to drive?
- Families should speak to the senior to express their concerns about their driving. Be aware that you may be requesting your loved one to give up their independence. So it’s best to include in the discussion other options available for transportation and independence. Home care companies like Simcoe Senior Services can assist seniors with transportation so that they can maintain their independence. Taxis and rideshares are also a good option.
- Family members cannot directly request that the Ministry of Transportation revoke a senior’s license. However, they can speak to the senior’s primary care physician to express their concerns. Although families can express their concerns, it is the physician that will assess the patient’s capacity to drive. Physicians in Ontario are required to report medically unfit drivers to the Ministry of Transportation.
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