Age alone is not going to determine driving ability. Actually, older drivers have a wide range of driving skills. Your health status matters more when it comes to driving ability. Various health conditions and declines in visual, thinking, and physical abilities that occur with aging can often affect driving ability.
Many people recognize when it’s time to change their driving habits or stop driving. Others are more reluctant. Checking your driving skills and speaking to family, friends and members, or maybe your doctor concerning your concerns may help clarify what changes, if any, are essential.
Have Your Skills Changed?
If your driving skills have declined, can you be sure? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should check your skills. You may need to make positive changes to driving habits.
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Carries a friend or family member expressed concern about your driving?
Has your doctor advised you to limit driving for health reasons?
Have you been stopped by a police officer and warned about poor driving behavior?
Are you currently stopped by the police or had near misses or accidents within the last 3 years?
Can you sometimes go missing on familiar routes?
Do your thoughts wander when you drive? Do you become confused or angry?
Do other drivers honk to you frequently?
Do cars or people walking seem to appear out of nowhere?
Have you got trouble moving your foot between the brake and gas pedals? Alternatively, can you confuse both?
It’s important to be aware of your limitations and the way they may affect your driving. If you’re not sure there is a driving problem, ask a relative, friend, or doctor for advice. The most important thing is to be safe on the road.
Tests to Assess Your Skills
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Different kinds of tests are used to assess driving skills. You may answer questions relating to your driving on the computer or in writing. You can take online tests that look at the mental and physical skills used while driving, such as leg strength, neckvision and flexibility, and memory.
Whichever type of test you take, pay attention to the score. (Some tests have lots of scores, one for each type of driving skill.) It will tell you what your driving strengths and weaknesses are and what skills you should focus on. The tests also offer methods for making driving safer.
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Another form of driving test is a road test, through which someone rides with you when you drive. A person conducting the path test will look for signs of dangerous driving. Did you buckle your seatbelt? Did you have trouble using the gas or brake pedal? The evaluator will also observe how you handle traffic on busy streets, lane changes, turning, stopping and merging and other traffic situations.
You might ask a member of family or friend to be your passenger and tell you whenever you do something risky or wrong. Or you can engage a driver rehabilitation specialist, an occupational therapist, or other professional who is specially trained to evaluate people’s driving and help them make changes to stay safe.
Working With a Specialist
A driver rehabilitation specialist typically performs a two-part evaluation. The 1st part, in a office, looks at thephysical and visual, and thinking abilities needed for safe driving, like muscle strength and reaction time. The next part is a road test to identify potential driving problems. Based on the results, the specialist makes recommendations to improve a person’s power to drive safely. Training or special equipment may be suggested.
To find a driver rehabilitation specialist, consult a neighborhood hospital or medical clinic (ask for the occupational therapy department).
Family friends and members may have expressed concerns regarding your driving. Pay attention to them – they mean well and wish you to be secure. Having the freedom to drive where and when you want is extremely important. But the bottom line is “safety first.”
You may feel angry, hurt, or defensive when someone criticizes your driving. These feelings are understandable and common. You could worry about needing to depend on others to get around or becoming housebound. Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with other ways to go places.
Building a Transportation Plan
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Chat with someone you trust and come up with a transportation plan. The blueprint might involve a combination of driving limits you agree to — like driving only during the day or avoiding high-speed roads — and other types of transportation. The plan ought to keep you connected topeople and places, and activities that happen to be important to you.
The plan will probably mean variations in your habits. For example, to avoid heavy traffic, you may have to modify the time of day you are going shopping, or you may shop at new places to avoid busy roads.
After you have a transportation plan, review it regularly to be certain it still matches your needs. You may have to make changes if your health or other circumstances change.
Rules of the Road
Here are a few basic rules that all drivers should follow.
Always wear a seatbelt. If your seatbelt is uncomfortable, adjust the shoulder mount.
Stay off the cell phone.
Avoid distractions like eating. Limit those, too, if the radio or conversations with other people are distracting.
Be sure there is enough space right in front behind and of your car.
Taking Extra Precautions
You can take additional steps when you are worried about your driving.
Avoid driving in bad weather like rain or snow. Wait until the climate is better or take other kinds of transportation just like a taxi or bus.
Limit your trips to places that are easy to get to and close to home.
Take roads which will avoid risky spots like ramps and left turns.
Use highways when there is less traffic.
When you are stressed or tired, avoid driving.
When you should Stop Driving
Sometimes, it’s best to stop driving altogether. How do you know when it’s time to give up the keys? It may be obvious, like when someone has a serious disease with symptoms that make driving unsafe. In other cases, it is not necessarily clear, much like a person with very mild dementia whose driving skills decline very slowly. Whatever the reason, it’s time to stop when your driving endangers you or other people on the road.
Talk to your familymembers and friends, or doctor to see if they have concerns about your driving. A driver rehabilitation specialist could also recommend if you should stop driving after evaluating your abilities and health.
If someone Has Alzheimer’s
For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, the issue is not whether the person will have to stop driving, but once. Early signs that Alzheimer’s is affecting a person’s driving ability include
drifting out from lane
becoming confused when entering or exiting a highway
getting lost in familiar places
stopping inappropriately, such as at green lights or in the midst of an intersection when not turning.
Accidents Can Lead to Restrictions
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A traffic accident can put an unexpected stop to driving. A police officer or some other person can report unsafe drivers for the state department of motor vehicles. These drivers must then submit medical information and may be required to take a driving test. Their licenses can be restricted or removed depending on the results.