It’s no decrease that as we age, our ability to do certain things starts to decrease. So, the thought of; “When Should I Stop Driving” may have crossed your mind at some point. As we age we may experience a decrease in our vision, our hearing may be impaired and our motor skills and reflexes might also slow in comparison to what they were. Another concern is that any health conditions that we possess may be worsening or may pose a general threat to operating motorized vehicles at all.
It’s never what anyone wants to hear but it’s something that everyone will have to think about at some point. As we age we will also experience a reduction in our strength as well as our coordination and flexibility. The important thing is to think about all relatable factors in conjunction with the general safety precautions you would have to take to control a car.
Remember that everyone ages and everyone ages differently so there is no absolute cut-off for when you can’t drive based on just your age. You want to take proactive steps when it comes to driving safety, the safety of those around you, and your safety. Stay on top of your health, keep an open mind, and know when to call it quits if you need to. Keep reading to find out exactly what you need to know when it comes to aging and driving.
What Are Things That Could Keep You From Driving
Ultimately, the things that could keep you from being able to drive legally would be any conditions that you may have that would directly affect your ability to operate a motorized vehicle safely. If you have any consistent issues that could potentially put yourself or others around you in danger then that would be a disqualifying factor for being able to drive.
For example, if you have issues with your reflexes or your range of motion you may want to consider consulting with your primary care physician and take a look at how you feel when you drive now. Age-related memory loss, loss of strength, or range of motion are not things to be taken lightly. You may confuse the gas and brake pedals or get flustered when it comes to traffic or following directions, you may even forget to check your blind spot before switching lanes.
These are all issues that many people will find themselves having to deal with later in life but you must pay attention to this yourself as you age. Always know your limitations. If you have trouble with your vision, that does not mean that you are going blind, you may just need to go in for an eye exam but you may want to consider not driving in any inclement weather or at night until your vision is corrected.
If you are a slower driver or you get flustered when it comes to directions or heavy traffic you may want to consider staying off of freeways or highways so that you can avoid any fast-moving traffic or stand still clusters of it. You might also want to consider pre-planning before you get into the car. Always know how much gas you have, always travel with any needed medications and a fully charged phone along with a car charger, and plan your route so you decrease your chances of becoming frustrated.
Listen to the people that are around you. Family and friends may recognize differences in your behavior or ability to drive before you do. Never take their observations or suggestions negatively. This is the first mistake that many people make which does not positively help anyone. Accept any suggestions or observations given to you about your ability to drive with an open mind and with a natural concern for yourself.
Regardless of if you agree or not, if someone is noticing something that you aren’t, it may be worth getting checked out. Just keep in mind that if you have grandchildren or great-grandchildren that you would more than likely want to do anything to increase their safety if they are of driving age. So, you may not want to subject yourself to being a motorist on the road with them if you have personal health concerns that could put them, yourself, or bystanders in danger.
How To Recognize When You Should Consider Putting Up The Keys
The first thing that you should work on before diving deep into your research on how to know when you should stop driving is to accept the simple fact that everyone reaches a point in their life when they have to give up the keys. If you accept this early on in your life while intending to keep yourself as healthy and capable as you can then it won’t bother you as much when you do reach the point where you can no longer drive.
There are a few warning signs to pay close attention to when driving for not only yourself but maybe even a loved one or friends that are seniors.
- Eyesight or hearing issues that haven’t been corrected or treated
- Frequent or significant crashes or close calls
- Health conditions that may cause you to lose memory, balance, or feeling in any limb
- Slowed reaction times or the inability to drive defensively
- A consistent string of traffic citations
If you are experiencing any of these issues or you have a concern for anything listed above you should immediately consult your primary care physician for a checkup or follow-up related to your concerns. Some of these issues can be easily corrected and some of them may take more care coordination.
As a driver is your responsibility to take ownership of any issues or health concerns that you may have so that you can seek out treatment or mechanisms for maintenance. Always remember that there are some things that we simply cannot help and although that is true there is often a significant amount that we can help. So, stay on top of your health and make self-observation a habit.
Life Still Goes On
The most important takeaway here is to know that life goes on regardless of if you can or cannot drive any longer. Accepting this early on is the first thing that you should do when trying to figure out if you should or shouldn’t give up the keys. If you end up needing to give up the keys or if you feel more comfortable doing so, that is perfectly fine. It’s normal to initially have feelings of frustration or anger and no longer being able to drive may also come off as challenging.
However, with challenges come great lessons and that is just a fact. So, try to look at this potential issue as a learning opportunity. You are not losing your independence you are only adjusting and enhancing your ability to be independent through the senior stage of your life.
You may notice benefits to not having a car such as not having to pay high gas prices or any other fees associated with owning a car such as insurance, detailing, or mechanical maintenance.
Keep in mind that there are multiple modes of transportation and if find yourself laying down your license, just realize that it is most certainly not the end of the world. It’s just the beginning of a new, although different chapter.