You’ve said it plenty of times, but your pleas just fell on deaf ears. Your dad is getting older, and he shouldn’t be driving himself to the doctor and to the grocery store anymore—especially now that his eyeglass lenses are nearly an inch thick. But he always brushes it off, saying he can see just fine—and you’re worried that one day it won’t just be him who doesn’t walk away from a crash.
Why Do Elderly Drivers Insist on Staying on the Roads?
You’re right to be concerned about the dangers of senior drivers. As the baby boomer generation enters its twilight years, nearly one in five drivers on U.S. roads is over the age 65—and elderly drivers are more likely to cause and be injured in crashes than their younger counterparts.
However, not all seniors need to hang up the keys. Studies have shown that older people who do not drive, sacrifice more than just their independence, they are also less more likely to suffer depression, decreased social activities, and failing health—which may be the reason seniors put up a fight to keep their cars.
What Can I Do If My Parent Won’t Hand Over the Keys?
The first thing you should do is have an honest talk with your parent about when it’s time to stop driving, preferably before his driving has begun to deteriorate. Make a list of things that can affect driving ability, and set reasonable limitations that can impair driving so that you can refer to it when the issue becomes a problem. Make a clear plan on how your loved one will get to social events and keep his health and mental acuity sharp after he gives up his right to drive, rather than focusing on groceries and errands.
If you are concerned about your parent’s driving ability in the meantime, encourage your mom or dad to:
- Get moving. Another thing you should do is make sure your parents are getting a good amount of exercise. A recent study showed that seniors who exercised for just 15 minutes a day could perform basic physical driving tasks more easily, such as turning their heads to check blind spots or swiveling in their seats to check for oncoming traffic. They could also get into and out of their cars more quickly than seniors who did not exercise, making it more likely that they would be able to get help after a crash.
- Look into new technology. Many cars have built-in technology features that can help older people, such as rear-view cameras, light-sensitive headlights, and backup sensors.
- Play games. Even grandkids can help seniors prevent car accidents by inviting them to play video or online games. Older people may not complain about their disabilities, but if they peer at the screen or have slowed reaction times, it may become clear that their driving is suffering. On the other hand, many games can help older people stay sharp and improve hand-eye coordination.
Want to share your concerns with your parents? Send them a link to this page on Facebook or via email, or print it out for them if they’re not so tech-savvy. Let them know the risks, and encourage them to read more about staying safe on the roads with our related news stories.