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When should older drivers hang their keys up for safety’s sake?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Determining when older drivers should hang up their keys can be a complex and sensitive matter. While age alone is not a definitive indicator of driving ability, there are certain factors to consider when assessing the safety and competence of older drivers. 

If you are getting older or you have concerns about an older loved one, here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re trying to determine whether to “hang up the keys.”

Physical and cognitive health

As individuals age, the following physical and cognitive abilities can decline, which can impact driving skills:

  • Vision and Hearing: Age-related changes in vision and hearing can affect an older driver’s ability to see road signs, detect hazards and hear sirens or horns.
  • Reaction Time and Reflexes: Slowed reaction time and diminished reflexes can affect an older driver’s ability to respond quickly to unexpected situations on the road, such as sudden braking or evasive maneuvers.
  • Cognitive Function: Conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments can significantly impact a person’s ability to drive safely. Memory loss, confusion and impaired judgment can lead to poor decision-making while driving.

This list is not exhaustive, so taking an individual’s unique circumstances into consideration is important.

Driving performance and safety

Evaluating an older driver’s actual driving performance is crucial when determining whether they should hang up their keys:

  • Near-Misses: If an older driver has a history of near-miss incidents, accidents or multiple traffic violations, this may be an indication of declining driving skills or unsafe habits. 
  • Self-Assessment: Encouraging older drivers to regularly self-assess their driving skills and seek feedback from trusted individuals, such as family members or healthcare professionals, can provide valuable insights. 
  • Driving Evaluation: A comprehensive driving evaluation conducted by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist can assess an older driver’s abilities, reaction times, decision-making and overall driving performance. 

It is essential to approach the topic of hanging up the keys with empathy and respect. Having open and honest conversations with older drivers about their safety and the potential alternatives. 

Accidents can happen at any age. If you fall victim to another driver’s mistakes, you have every right to expect fair compensation for your losses.