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OTHER ITA SITES:
Is Your Elderly Driver A Menace?
Seen any headlines like these lately? Of course, it's not true that all drivers over the age of 65, or even 85, are dangerous drivers. It's no more true than thinking that all drivers under the age of 21, or all drivers from New Jersey are accidents waiting to happen.
But it usually comes to pass that aging drivers do lose physical and or mental agility, and we need to be keeping an eye on our aging loved ones to be sure that they're still safe and confident behind the wheel.
Some elderly drivers will begin cutting back on their driving on their own. Others may not recognize that their skills are deteriorating. These are the drivers who regularly overestimate their abilities, blaming poorly designed roads, hard-to-see traffic signs, or other drivers for their near misses and fender-benders.
Family members are naturally reluctant to step into such an emotionally loaded subject. But when it becomes obvious that an older driver is having a hard time on the road, whether admitted or not, something must be done to protect the lives of both the senior driver and other people.
Many family members may have concerns about a senior's driving abilities, but they have no hard evidence one way or the other. If your older driver has had a serious traffic accident or has received a ticket for a moving violation, then of course driving has to stop immediately. If you don't have this kind of evidence, taking several rides with your senior driver the logical first step. After your rides make notes of what you observed. If you can get more than one family member to take a ride at different times of the day you will have a pretty good idea of how the driving is doing.
Combine your observations and make a list of specific things you observed.
If your driver's physician has made the recommendation that driving be curtailed or stopped, do your best to get a copy of this recommendation in writing.
Work out alternate transportation arrangements before you approach your driver. You will want to be able to offer practical alternatives to taking the car if you will be asking or demanding that he or she stop driving. Finding convenient alternatives may be a challenge, but this should never be an excuse for procrastinating about getting a dangerous driver off the road.
Most experts recommend that you talk with your elderly driver as a concerned and loving group. Often one member of the family group will be the most obvious spokesperson. Sometimes it is the person with whom the driver has the best relationship. Sometimes, though, if the conversation is guaranteed to end poorly, a better spokesperson is the family member who lives the most distant and who is least likely to have to "hear about it" daily.
Your elderly driver's response will depend on many things, including whether this issue has been discussed before and his or her physical and emotional health. Don't allow yourselves to be drawn into an argument, and don't be surprised if your driver's reaction is extremely negative or even abusive. Retreating from what you know needs to be done to protect both your elderly driver and the others on the road will only make the discussion even more difficult the next time.
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