If a discussion about driving between an adult child and his or her parent is difficult, imagine how challenging an older adult’s interior conversation is when deciding whether to continue driving.
Say, you’ve reached the age of 85. Been driving almost 70 years. Maybe been in an accident or two. Only one speeding ticket on your record.
Your last physical pronounced you hale and hardly. But there are warning signs: Getting harder to park? Some scratches and scrapes you’re hiding from the family? Didn’t see a mother and her infant in the crosswalk until almost too late? Getting harder to see at night, or maybe seeing double?
(Difficult as it is to give up driving, more than 600,000 drivers ages 70 or older voluntarily stop driving annually, according to a 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health).
Aware that ending driving can be a body blow to one’s independence, how can we know when it’s time to hang up the keys?
1. Look at AARP’s ten warning signs that tell you whether to limit or stop driving. They include getting lost in familiar places, having trouble following road signs, and reacting more slowly to unexpected situations.
http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/transportation/info-05-2010/Warning Signs Stopping.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has a safe driver self-evaluation test. (www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/OlderDriversBook/pages.
2. Take a vision test or any number of AAA or AARP driving evaluations.
3. Try out a virtual driving test websites like Drive Sharp. Drivesharp tests your reflexes in different emergency situations. www.drivesharp.com. Your score may indicate whether your reflexes are quick enough to continue driving.
Finally, remember the differences between an issue, emergency, and a crisis:
An issue is recognizing that your behind-the-wheel skills have declined.
An emergency might be last week’s fender bender or getting stopped by a cop for cruising past a stop sign.
A crisis could be the child you haven’t hit or the pile-up that hasn’t occurred…yet.