6/13/2011 11:00 AM ET|
7 signs Dad shouldn't drive anymore
You may have to decide how to tell an elderly parent that it's no longer safe to continue driving. But first you'll need to recognize when it's time.
After experiencing the freedom that driving offers, few people like the idea of depending on others or relying on public transportation. However, when age diminishes the ability of seniors to drive without endangering themselves and others, it's time to start making hard decisions about transportation alternatives.
Auto insurance companies recognize that the U.S. driving population is aging. Accident rates -- and car insurance rates -- typically begin to rise around age 65.
"Americans are living longer than they ever have before," says Dave Snyder, vice president and associate general counsel for the American Insurance Association. "As the post-World War II baby boom generation moves along through the years, you will see an increase in very elderly drivers. It is an issue that will grow in importance. No one wants to lose their independence, no matter how old they are."
7 warning signs
Here are seven signs that it may be time to take the keys away from Mom and Dad:
- Too many near misses. We all experience close calls while driving, but these should be rare occurrences. If you are afraid to drive with Mom or Dad these days because he or she can't seem to keep his or her mind on the traffic, it's a strong indication that he or she should stop drivings.
- Difficulty turning to check traffic. If physical limitations have made it hard for your parents to turn to see the road behind them, they may not be physically fit for driving. Defensive drivers need to be aware of the traffic that surrounds them.
- Losing their way. Anyone can get lost, but if this becomes a noticeable pattern, it may signal a loss of memory that can seriously impair driving.
- Slow responses. Drivers don't need to have the quick reflexes of teenagers to be competent behind the wheel, but they must be able to respond to sudden changes in traffic and react to emergency situations.
- Having a badly battered car. If you've noticed a growing amount of dings and dents on your parent's car, it's a sign that something is wrong. A large number of very minor accidents can foreshadow a big one.
- Driving angry. An inability to cope with the normal frustrations of driving without a loss of temper could indicate that your parent is no longer mentally fit to drive.
- Too many tickets. Good drivers frequently go years between tickets for traffic violations. If your parent is cited frequently, you need to find out why. Also, too many tickets can lead to high auto insurance rates.
Speak from the heart
Questioning your parents' ability to drive "can be a challenging conversation to have," says David Shotwell, the senior director of livable communities at AARP. "There are three things we recommend. The first is to get the facts and learn the warning signs. Second is to educate yourself so you are prepared. Third is to prepare for and initiate a thoughtful conversation. We use the term 'Prepare with your head and talk with your heart.'"
If you see strong warning signs that it's time for your parents to stop driving, you may want to involve their doctors. Sometimes problems can be corrected with treatment. If poor vision is a hindrance, perhaps your parents can limit their driving to daylight hours to prolong their driving years and independence. If poor health has diminished their abilities, they may be able to get back behind the wheel after treatment.
The most important thing to remember when you chat with your parents about driving is that you are helping them make responsible decisions about their own safety and the safety of others. They cared for you when you needed advice as a child. Now it's time for you to return the favor. Point out how much money they will save on auto insurance and car maintenance if they limit their driving.
Reducing auto insurance rates
Sometimes a senior can resume driving safely after taking a refresher driver course, says Dave Althausen, a spokesman for the California Department of Insurance. The department has been working closely with AAA, which offers auto insurance, to encourage senior drivers to polish their road skills in special classes.
A refresher course can reinforce good driving skills, teach new ones and help change driving habits. These classes may offer tips on how to improve awareness and avoid collisions. Around the country, AARP and many state departments of motor vehicles offer such training. Information about such classes can be found at AARP website.
Sometimes taking such a class can result in an auto insurance discount, said Althausen. "It is good for seniors because it helps them save money. It's good for other drivers because it helps seniors hone their skills. It's a win-win."
This article was reported by Emmet Pierce for Insure.com.
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"7 signs Dad shouldn't drive anymore": And just a few days before Father's Day?! Wow!
You couldn't simply write: "7 signs Mom (or Dad) shouldn't drive anymore"
Stop demonizing only the men! Gender biased hack(s)!
Those picking on the older drivers, and those picking on the younger drivers are missing the point completely. We need to make our roads as SAFE as possible and it begins with each one of us. Don't get caught up in the BLAME GAME which seems to be running rampant ever since that woman spilled hot coffee on herself at a McDonald's a few years ago and now we have fast food coffee cups reading "Contents HOT." Well I sure hope so because I didn't order COLD coffee.
And whether it's an automobile fatality caused by a 22-year-old driver talking on his cell phone, or an 85-year-old who has slow reflexes doesn't make a bit of difference. A life was lost needlessly.
Yes, statistics show the older drivers are at higher risk, but that doesn't make young drivers exempt. I agree we need to keep an eye on our parents driving habits as they grow older, but ALL of us need to keep an eye on our own driving habits as well. By the way, I am 56.
Some people stay fit enough to drive in the later years, some do not. It's not something you can really make a law against or anything, but it can be a problem if relatives do not keep it in check.
I am an older driver and I am more fearful of the younger drivers for several reasons.
- They tailgate.
- They try to intimidate older drivers.
- They are inattentive to what is going on around them.
- Unsafe driving habits e.g. blaring music, putting on make up, checking their teeth in the rear view mirror, eating while driving, drinking coffee while driving and of course looking around to see who is a good catch.
- They dot in and out of traffic as though there is some type of emergency.
- During the rainy season, they become speed racing maniacs.
There are some young drivers who are courteous, polite and have a tremendous amount of respect for older drivers. I know...my daughter is one of them.
My dad lived next door to me, I saw him driving up the street with his head peering over the steering wheel, nose just about on the steering, heading out about 25 MPH. When he final got back I told him that one day he may just run over a child and that if he did he would regret it for the remainer of his life. I told him that I would drive him anywhere at any time. He hand over his keys; a very wise and reasonable man my dad was, may he rest in peace.
Just because you see a little white hair on the driver ahead or beside you in traffic is no cause to have a cow. That car tailgating you with the seats laid most of the way back full of texting teen-agers is WAY more likely to visit your rear bumper....and should be ticketed.
Oh...and the police will tell you that speeding is the top reason for accidents. Nope, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it is number 6. Number one is distracted driving. Two is following too closely. Three is failure to yield right of way. Most common failure to yield right of way? Going slow in the left lane. Yes, that's illegal too.
So, officer....how about some distracted driving tickets? Some tailgating tickets? Are you really interested in "safety", or are you functioning as an easy tax collector with speeding tickets.
can't drink until you are 21 maybe you shouldn't drive until then either.
I am a 71 yr old female driver. I have been independent most of my life. I still drive and intend to keep on driving for a long time. I believe most people my age and up that stay active, mindful of the laws who have all their faculties should be able to drive as long as they can.
Those who sit home all day ,don't get out and go anywhere but to the store and back are not staying active enough on the road. I think most of us will have the sense to tell our kids when we can''t drive anymore.
I have driven from one state thru three others and back again. It is all in staying active and keeping your mind sharp.
My children don't live in the saqme city as I do and I am pride myself on being active.
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