Senior Driving: When to Hit the Brakes

It's easy to become attached to the independence that driving offers. Yet, as we age, we must remain vigilant of our capacity to do so safely. This article unravels the query: "How can a senior know when to give up the car keys?"

senior driving

The first step to answering this question is understanding why the family is concerned about his driving. Their worries may stem from observing several vital changes. These could involve slowed response times or the onset of health conditions that negatively impact driving, such as declining vision or memory impairment.

Our assertive senior, who asserts, "I am still very capable of driving," must apply a dash of realism to self-assessment. A driving check-up is recommended to gauge one's abilities objectively. It’s not an examination but a reevaluation, a refresher course that sharpens ability and techniques. AAA, AARP, and local senior centers provide such programs.

Another suggestion is to replace driving with alternative transportation methods gradually. This step may be approached by planning outings with family and friends who can share driving. Public transportation, taxis, or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft can also be tested.

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News flash from Proverbs 19:20: "Listen to advice, and accept discipline, that you may gain wisdom in your future." No one is immune to the lessons learning offers, even those seasoned by experience. Accept advice gracefully, and it's not a criticism but an expression of concern for your safety and well-being.

Reflect on any changes in your driving patterns. Are you avoiding driving at night, on expressways, or in bad weather? Changes like these indicate a drop in self-confidence, which could indicate the need to relinquish the car keys.

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Consider if close calls or actual accidents have increased. Are those minor fender benders piling up? Increased mishaps indicate diminished driving capability even if you're not at fault.

A significant sign it might be time to hang up the keys is if directions or street signs become confusing. Getting lost, especially in familiar places, is a telltale sign that cognitive function may be changing.

"Are other drivers frequently honking at me?" is a crucial question to ask yourself. If that's the case, it could indicate that your reactions are not as swift as they once were, leading to frustrated fellow motorists.

Additionally, take note of medical advice. Health professionals are trained to observe changes in physical and cognitive function that may not be evident in your or your family's observations.

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It's also important to watch out for receiving multiple traffic tickets or warnings, which can be an indication that your driving habits are not in tune with the law and may pose a safety risk.

Our dapper but weary senior will want to prove his point that "he is fully capable of making his own decisions." That's a valid stand, paired with an attitude of respectful listening to those who express concern.

If the phrase, "Why does his family bug him about his driving?" rings true for you, then having a heart-to-heart, clear-the-air conversation is advisable. Explain your perspective, but also be willing to understand theirs.

Emotional attachment to driving can be potent. But as Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us, "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens." The seemingly daunting transition from the driver's seat may be a blessing in disguise.

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An unexpected advantage of giving up driving is the discovery of ample time for reading, sightseeing, or prayer, previously impractical activities, while keeping eyes on the road.

From a financial perspective, giving up car ownership can also lead to substantial maintenance, insurance, and gas savings.

An act of love wrapped in wisdom is giving up the car keys when the time is right. Shifting from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s side does not diminish a person's worth but ensures their safety, a priceless payment.

"He is still very capable of driving," but when receptive to well-meaning advice and maintaining open lines of communication with his family, each step taken will be in the right direction—away from unnecessary risk and toward a life well lived.

Sources of Information: 

Government website for senior drivers [], 

AARP [], 

AAA Senior Driving [], 

The Holy Bible.

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