20 Signs Your Parent Might Be An Unsafe Driver

By Marlo Sollitto,AgingCare.com contributingeditor

We’ve all heard the stories: An elderly woman hits the accelerator instead of the brakes and crashes into a building. A 90-year-old man backs his Cadillac onto a sidewalk and hits 10 people.

Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent, but the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as people age. Statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact an average of 500 older adults is injured every day in crashes.

Here are some warning signs that indicate a senior might not be safe to drive, according to the NHTSA:

  • Drifts into other lanes
  • Straddles lanes
  • Makes sudden lane changes
  • Ignores or misses stop signs and traffic signals
  • Gets easily confused in traffic
  • Brakes or stops abruptly without cause
  • Accelerates suddenly without reason
  • Coasts to a near stop in the midst of moving traffic
  • Presses simultaneously on the brake and accelerator while driving
  • Has difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects and other vehicles

See the next page for 10 more warning signs…

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20 Warning Signs That an Elder is an Unsafe Driver originallyappeared onAgingCare.com.


Warning signs continued:

  • Is increasingly nervous when driving
  • Drives at significantly slower than the posted speed or general speed of other vehicles
  • Backs up after missing an exit or road
  • Difficultly reacting quickly as they process multiple images or sounds
  • Problems with neck flexibility in turning to see traffic on the left or right
  • Gets lost or disoriented easily, even in familiar places
  • Fails to use the turn signal, or keeps the signal on without changing lanes
  • Increased “close calls” and “near misses”
  • Has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years
  • Dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs

What to do about unsafe elderly drivers

When you notice several of these warning signs, it is time to assess the situation. Don’t wait for an accident. But be sympathetic to your loved one’s feelings. Losing the right to drive is a traumatic event. Giving up the car keys is viewed by elders a major event that represents loss of independence and self-sufficiency.

Rather than forcibly taking away the keys, suggest a driving test to evaluate an elder’s ability to operate a car. A driving assessment is available at the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you are concerned for the safety of a family member, friend, or other person who can no longer drive safely, call or visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Provide the person’s name as shown on the license, birth date, driver license number (if known) and current address, and explain what you observed that led you to believe the person is an unsafe driver. The letter must be signed; however, you may request that your name be kept confidential.

If you determine that mom or dad is still capable of driving, suggest they enroll in a Mature Driving course. Some drivers age 60+ have never looked back since they got their first driver’s licenses, but even the most experienced drivers can benefit from brushing up on their driving skills.

By taking a driver safety course, seniors learn the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques, and how to operate a vehicle more safely in today’s increasingly challenging driving environment (distracted drivers from dangerous activities such talking on the phone or texting and driving). The senior will learn how to manage and accommodate common age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time.

As an added incentive, let your elderly loved one know that they may be eligible to receive an insurance discount upon completing the course as well as discounts on roadside assistance plans.

In addition to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, senior organizations like the AARP offer driver safety programs.

Related:
Top 11 Cars for Senior Drivers
10 Best Cities for Aging
Helping Aging Parents Without Taking Over

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor

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19 comments

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you AgingCare, for Sharing this!

Decobecq Brigitte

Bonjour,

Thank you for this article.

One very important element is that many drugs used "to help" old people are in face responsible of a lack of expertise in day a day life.
This is a real cause of loss of ability.
Some old persons are taken sleeping pills and in the morning other pills to "wake up", add to this treatments, some psychotropic drugs to "help them to live"...
You could imagine the result of such treatmens on the body, on the mind of the person.
Thus, old persons fell real difficulties to accomplish things of every days.

If we really want to help old persons, be aware of what drugs they are using as a treatment.
In some countries, more then 60 percent of old persons are "ill from using to much drugs" !

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W.3 years ago

WARNING TO THOSE IN THE EASTON, PA AREA -

My mom is tired of chauffering my dad around, so she pushed him to drive again. His license hasn't been revoked in 23 yrs. (DUI when he was 53)

The problem with this is that:
My dad has had 3 strokes and two heart attacks.
My dad was full of "adult male driver hubris" when he was healthy enough to drive.
He has almost killed himself (at least 3X to my knowledge) because he refused NOT to tailgate.
My dad is an A N G R Y driver.
My dad has totalled 3 vehicles.

So if you live close to the NJ/PA border, you may wish to be a tad more careful out there. Wish I could tell you what he's driving these days, but I can't.
You could say that I should alert the PA police, but they're the ones who said he COULD drive.
I live over 700 miles away and my father has told me quite plainly that he thinks I'm an asshole, so please don't admonish me to do anything about this. I just wanted to warn folks out there.

Pat Spiegel
Pat Spiegel3 years ago

I agree that the elderly are NOT the only ones who can display these signs. I have personally seen teenage dirvers do many of te same things and often on purpose!)--and then there are those who have had troo much to drink (or are on other chemical substances), most of whom I would imagine are not elderly.

For Mom, the kesy were taken away not because she had any of these signs but because she kept forgetting where she was going.

Pat Spiegel
Pat Spiegel3 years ago

I agree that the elderly are NOT the only ones who can display these signs. I have personally seen teenage dirvers do many of te same things and often on purpose!)--and then there are those who have had troo much to drink (or are on other chemical substances), most of whom I would imagine are not elderly.

For Mom, the kesy were taken away not because she had any of these signs but because she kept forgetting where she was going.

John B.
John B.3 years ago

Thanks for sharing the reminders

Nils Lunde

ty

ONLY PERSONAL MESSAGE
Ana R3 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Marie W.
Marie W.3 years ago

And where is the public transportation in the USA?

Cherry M.
Cherry M.3 years ago

My daughters father-in-law was hit and run over by an elderly woman who hit the gas instead of the brakes, on the sidewalk no less!! No license, no insurance...she just drove to the local Wal-Greens around the corner from her house. Damn near killed him as he walked out the door!!!

A few months back I was in a line of traffic on a one-way street with 2 lanes bumper to bumper. Here comes an elderly man, driving the wrong way and shouting out his window "help me"! I have no idea how he missed hitting other cars but we all pulled on to sidewalks or onto the lane separater...thank God no one was walking!!!