Not all elderly drivers are unfit to remain behind the wheel. Every individual ages differently and some elderly drivers are far superior motorists when compared with many younger individuals. However, as most individuals age, their bodies respond to the aging process in ways that can ultimately inhibit their abilities to drive safely. In order to prevent car accidents related to these impairments, it is critical that elderly persons and their loved ones make objective assessments about whether or not it is ultimately safe to continue driving.
When family members and friends become concerned about whether or not their loved one can still drive safely on a regular basis, the best possible assessment one can obtain is from the elderly loved one's physician. Physicians can provide elderly drivers and their loved ones with an objective medical assessment of whether or not it will be in the patient's best interest to hang up the keys.
Consulting a physician for his or her opinion also may help to decrease any familial tension associated with asking a loved one to stop driving. Driving represents personal empowerment, independence and self-reliance for many adults. So any conversation begun on this topic must be approached respectfully and with consideration for the elderly motorist's investment in driving.
However, driving is also ultimately a privilege that must be exercised with caution. No matter how much an individual may want to retain his or her driver's license, if driving will ultimately endanger both the motorist and those around him or her, the challenging decision to hang up the keys may ultimately have to be made.
Source: Harrison Daily, "Advice for families coping with an older driver's changing abilities," June 25, 2013