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How To Know It’s Time For An Elderly Driver To Give Up The Car

October 7, 2015

older drivers

image courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

According to the Leadership Alliance for a Vital Community, a website of the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, the elderly population in Oneida and Herkimer Counties is growing. “Both counties are experiencing the graying phenomena effecting much of the country. The 85 and over group was the fastest growing since 2000 with 29% in both Herkimer and Oneida County.”

That’s a lot of senior drivers in the Utica area. We’ve noticed that most people over age 65 want to hold onto their driver’s license for as long as possible. When you think how excited newly licensed teens get at their newfound freedom, consider how difficult it is for people in their 80s to give up after so many years behind the wheel.

So what are the tip-offs marking the time for you or your family member to either stop or limit their driving?

Warning Signs That It’s Time to Stop Driving

1. Frequent close calls.
How many times when you’re in the car with your elderly mother are you repeating, “Watch out Mom!” If it’s often, it may be time to quit before a serious accident happens. Our reaction times slow down as we age so sudden close calls can be more frequent.

2. Finding dents on the car and damage around where the car is parked.
Do you notice some bumps and scrapes around the garage or car port? Everyone loses flexibility and strength as we age. Backing out of the driveway requires turning the neck. This was once easy, but now many older drivers back out unsure whether they’ll hit anything or not…and often they do.

3. Getting lost.
If the surroundings you’re used to become suddenly unfamiliar, you may be experiencing a more advanced stage of the memory loss we all suffer as we age. This is a sure sign you should start getting someone else to drive you to your doctor appointments and the rest of your errands.

4. Having trouble seeing traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings.
A 60-year-old requires three times the amount of light to see as a teenager. And his/her field of vision is narrower. Plus, as we age our eyes constantly change, making today’s glasses seem weaker or not as effective as when we got them.

5. Recieving traffic tickets or warnings.
Law enforcement is trying to tell you something here. They are sympathetic to older drivers, but also experienced enough to know the tragedy of preventable car accidents. If you are getting tickets more frequently as you age, it may be time to think about stopping.

6. Having trouble moving your foot from the gas to the break.
How many times have you read in the news about a car driven by a senior smashing into a storefront? It’s usually the case that the driver had a hard time getting his foot from the gas to the break. We have seen people who hardly had the strength to walk in their old age yet, there they were, driving to the market. If it’s difficult to work the pedals on your car, it’s time to stop driving.

We know it’s hard to confront this time in our lives, but the tragedy of a bad car accident is much worse. We have seen many of our clients handle this situation with loving care and practicality. They offer to drive their parents to their doctor appointments and to the market. We have found that often this “new” relationship with parents and loved ones becomes an unforeseen but wonderful positive in everyone’s lives.

The time spent with your elderly mother or uncle turns into a wonderful experience of storytelling and social interaction. New relationships form creating stronger family bonds that had previously faded over the years.

At Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig we realize that change is difficult for all of us. But often it can lead to some very positive results. In this case, a safer road and maybe getting to know a loved one that much better.

Until next time,
Your STW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or complete our Request a Quote form here.