When we were teenagers and our parents allowed us to take the car, they worried about us and didn’t go to sleep until they heard the garage door open and the front door close. Now, some 30, 40 or 50 years later, the tables have turned and adult children are now concerned about their parents’ safety when they are driving.
How do you know if your parent is still able to drive safely? Should they be driving? What should you look for? Who do you contact?
I watched a program on Canadian television last week that was discussing seniors and driving. They were profiling two families that had met tragedy when their loved one (s) was struck and killed by an older driver; that driver was not even aware that they had hit someone.
In Ontario at age 80, one’s driver’s licence will be renewed every 2 years instead of every 5 years. In order to renew, one must attend a driver’s licence renewal session with other senior drivers and have their vision tested, take a multiple-choice test on traffic rules and signs and participate in a group education session. There is no testing for driving competency.
A behind the wheel evaluation is perhaps the best and only way to determine how well one can break, respond, and plan, initiate, follow instruction, appreciate and apply the rules of the road in a safe manner.
Inherent in the aging process is changes to one’s physical functioning, vision, perception and processing abilities. It is the degree or severity of these changes that could make driving unsafe. Though these changes are inevitable, the rate at which these changes occur will vary between individuals. Age alone is neither a good indicator of driving skills nor a determinate of when someone should stop driving.
Just yesterday my 95 year old mother in law called to tell us she had just driven home for the hairdresser!- Audrey Miller