When to Stop Driving — No One is Excluded
Shortly after I sold my accordion (my monkey died) I bought a ukulele. Seems like everyone I know plays the ukulele (or maybe I attract ukulele players). In any case, I’m certain that if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place…
And this brings me to a very serious matter, “At what point should someone stop driving?” And it’s not just the passengers in my car asking me this — it’s also the people walking on the sidewalk and people with mailboxes. Let me provide some tips about this issue. First, move your mailbox farther away — to a different street. Second, stop walking on the sidewalk.
But if your situation is more serious than mailboxes and sidewalks, here are some indicators for when it may be time to stop driving…
- Unsure who has the right of way
- Not sure what the speed limit is
- Forgetting to signal when changing lanes or turning
- Anxiety or stress while driving
- Stopping at green lights or when there is no stop sign
- Delayed response to unexpected situations
- Becoming distracted while driving
- Decrease in confidence while driving
- Hitting curbs when making right turns or backing up
- Scrapes or dents on car
- Having frequent close calls
- Other drivers honking at you
- Driving too fast or too slow
There are also health conditions that may threaten a person’s ability to drive such as dementia, problems with hearing or vision, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, diabetes — and any condition that needs medications that could impair driving ability.
The decision to stop driving does not have to be traumatic. Here are some interim steps to consider before completely giving up driving: avoid driving at night or in bad weather, drive only in familiar places, stay off of highways, limit distractions — turn off the radio, avoid conversations with people in the car (even if they are really there), not texting or using a cell phone.
As you get older, your vision, reflexes, and hearing change. These changes make it harder for you to drive safely. It’s natural to resist, but at some point, you will need to stop driving — the best time is before it becomes someone else’s decision.
When you do have concerns about a loved one’s driving, one option is to request a driving evaluation or request a written opinion from your doctor. Having a third party test someone’s driving takes you out of the middle.
Let me finish with this, it’s a bad idea to play the ukulele while driving — I would venture to say it’s more dangerous than texting — I’m certain the data will back me up.
Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online help available at TrafficEngineering.com/Services