If you have an aging parent and notice one or more of the following signs, it may be time for them to stop driving.
1. An Accident
If your parent is in an accident, it could be time to take away the keys. Some accidents, such as being rear-ended, may not be their fault. If they’re found to be at fault for an collision, though, they could be at higher risk of causing another one.
2. Traffic Tickets
While many drivers have been issued a traffic ticket or warning at some point in their life, it can be particularly disconcerting when your aging parent gets one. Elderly drivers are less likely to drive aggressively than younger drivers, so getting a traffic ticket is more likely evidence of inattentiveness than aggression. If your parent is cited for a traffic violation, it could be a sign that they’re having trouble keeping track of traffic signals and standard driving rules.
3. A Jump in Car Insurance Rates
Sometimes elderly adults won’t mention that they were in an accident or got a traffic ticket, but they may complain about an increase in their auto insurance rates. There are other explanations for why an insurance company may increase premiums. If your parent mentions a sudden and significant jump in their auto insurance rates, though, ask if they were in an accident or got a ticket.
4. Damage to Their Car
New damage to your parent’s car may have come from a minor collision they didn’t report. If you notice that your parent’s car has any new scrapes or dents, ask them what happened. You might also take a look at any fences or mailboxes near the driveway to check for scrapes or dents. Signs of damage could mean that your parent is struggling with specific maneuvers, such as backing up.
5. Marks Along The Driveway
Tire marks alongside your parent’s driveway may suggest that they’re having trouble pulling into or backing out of the driveway. Depending on where the marks are, they may be having difficulty backing up, turning left or right, or driving even a short distance forward in a straight line. If you see marks, check next time you visit for any new ones. Everyone can miss the driveway one time, but continually having trouble pulling in or out is a sign that your parent could be having trouble with basic driving tasks.
6. Anxiousness About Driving
If your aging parent has become anxious about driving, there’s likely a good reason for their anxiety. They may be uncomfortable driving in certain conditions, on certain roads or driving in general. Watch to see whether they avoid getting on the road at particular times or places, or if the concern is constant.
7. Delayed Reactions
To see how your parent drives, go for a ride with them and watch their reaction time. Older adults often don’t have as good reaction times as younger drivers, but they should still react fairly quickly to changing driving conditions. If their reactions are delayed, they may be having trouble seeing, hearing or simply paying attention to the road.