If someone in your family is reaching their golden years, it can be frustrating—or scary—when their driving habits begin to slip. But how do you know when their driving is unsafe, and how can you monitor them without making them feel like they're losing their independence?
Consider the following tips from the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.
- Ride along with your family member and observe his or her ability to control the vehicle, stay within the lane, drive at posted speeds, maintain a safe distance from other cars, obey traffic signals, make appropriate decisions when turning or at intersections, and park the car.
- Look for any confusion, poor judgement or indications that he or she is not focused, including getting lost, braking/accelerating for no apparent reason or forgetting where the car is parked.
- Consult with a physician who can help to identify any medical issues and support the decision to continue driving or not.
- If driving remains an option, consider having the individual enroll in a course to brush up on road rules and defensive driving techniques, or consult with a driving rehabilitation specialist who can perform complete evaluations both on and off the road to help maintain safe driving practices.
- If it's no longer safe to drive, be prepared for a frank but often emotional discussion. "Anger and sadness are often associated with the loss of driving, so let the individual express his or her thoughts, acknowledge their feelings, and respond with compassion," suggests Kelly A. Kearns, Psy.D., Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.
- Explore transportation options. From community transport and senior resources to Uber, Lyft and other car services, there are many alternatives available.
- Create an "advanced directive for driving," which designates a trusted individual to assist if the older driver is no longer able to drive safely.
Source: Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
Published with permission from RISMedia.