Drivers – Older Better?

Ever get a speeding ticket? Had a traffic violation? Anything that made you take a defensive driving course. Well, I have and it was just completed this week. So, this one is fresh in my mind. I took mine – on line… It is a wonderful thing to sit down and complete this course in your own home, without having to attend a weekend session. Not that attending a weekend session is a bad thing. It is the weekend and you have to see other people…. They are wondering what you did to have to go to class (and you are probably thinking the same thing). Enough about that, this post really is about something that I think is important – when and how to insure that senior drivers should hang up their driver license? It is an interesting question.. Statistics show that new teenage drivers and senior (over 55) drivers are the major cause of accidents. Not shocking, but definitely shows that if we did not let the new teen drivers get experience – they would not get better at driving. What about the senior drivers that should stop – do you just not let them work through it?

As we get older stuff happens.

  • Our eye sight gets worse. I guess I was lucky, I did not need reading glasses till I was older than 50. Driving at night becomes more difficult – in fact, I bet if you drove around a senior community, most cars parked. Vision definitely gets impaired, but is correctable to some degree.
  • Injuries and body parts failing. I have already had one hip replacement. Good thing it has not really effected my range of motion, but it can. I see many senior folks, riding around in scooters to help them get around. Then I see them get into the driver side of their cars… Hum? If you can not walk without assistance, how are you going to work the pedals (gas and brake).
  • Medications.. I can say that my intake of meds is higher than at any point in my life (and it will probably get worse). Ever read the label of that come with the meds… Should you drive? I think they call that driving while impaired.
  • Reflexes.. I know for me – my reflexes are still good, but not like when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. When do I know when the reflexes have started to fail me?
  • Judgement.. As we get older we like to think we know more and are a better drivers. Hell, we have 30, 40, 50 years of driving under our belt. We have seen everything (as long as the eyesight is still good)!

There probably are more, but I think you get the point. There are many things that will happen over time.. When they all add up (or maybe just one of them) causes driving a vehicle to be dangerous for themselves and others – it is time to take the license away. Who does it?

  • DMV – well, they probably could put in a written, eye test and driver test again.. Much like we had when we first got our license. At what age do you make that call? 55? 65? 70? 80? I can hear the age discrimination claims a flying.
  • Doctors – Interesting.. They either have worked on your body, prescribed medications or know your full mental or physical capacity. Should they alert the DMV? At the very least have that conversation with their patient. Which they probably do…
  • Family members – for sure! Now that is an interesting conversation. Mom or Dad, we have been noticing that you are having an extremely difficult time getting around. We are concerned about your safety when you are in the car. I really think it is time for you to sell the car and turn in your driver’s license. I can just hear what my father would have said…
  • Driver them-self – probably should happen. Just a difficult thing to say and do. Losing your independence and freedom to come and go as you please.

There is no perfect solution to this problem. I just know that this problem is getting worse every year. As the population is living longer. Maybe a combination of all of the above should happen. Doctors need to be upfront and communicate to the patient and their families (enough of patient only information). When it comes to driving in a car – everyone can be a danger to themselves and others. Families need to have that difficult discussion and realize that their lives are going to change. For me, I had to drive my kids around before they were old enough to drive. I guess I will have to drive my family around when they get too old to drive themselves.

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