It can be difficult to broach the subject of “hanging up the keys” to a family member. After all, your grandfather has always been a great role model, and you don’t want to embarrass him or make him feel like he can’t be trusted—but you also don’t want to put others at risk just because you want to spare his feelings.
Here are a few common ways older drivers are at particular risk of serious road accidents:
- Medical problems. Elderly drivers are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, or other sudden medical events while driving—causing them to lose control of the car.
- Vision problems. Failing vision is a major cause of car accidents in elderly people. Your grandfather may see well enough to notice other cars on the road, but be unable to see a child crossing the road, or a biker in an intersection.
- Wrong-way driving. Older drivers may not be able to navigate the complex entrances and exits on I-70 or I-435, causing them to drive head-on into a driver at 65 mph.
- Intersection accidents. As they age, many drivers become more afraid of taking the expressway, opting for the slower speeds on city streets. Unfortunately, they may experience an accident in an intersection that is just as deadly as a freeway crash.
- Prescription drugs. Seniors often take many different kinds of medications with varying side effects, causing them to drive with dulled senses—or even causing them to fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Frailty. Older people are not only more likely to cause accidents, they’re less likely to live through them. Advanced age makes it harder for a body to cope with serious injury, making a relatively minor crash into a fatal event.
How Can I Tell My Elderly Relative That it Is Time to Stop Driving?
You should ride as a passenger with an elderly relative whenever you visit, just to make sure his driving habits haven’t changed. If you notice any dangerous actions, the best way to approach the subject is to tell your grandfather you are concerned for his health—remember, he is just as likely to be injured as he is to cause somebody else injury. For more helpful driving tips, we encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter, or read the related links below.