Seniors and Unsafe Driving

We often have people ask us for advice due to their elderly loved one being an unsafe driver. This is a sensitive issue and must be approached delicately. A driver’s license is a symbol of freedom, and self-sufficiency. Driving is not a privilege that anyone wants to give up. However it is also important to help the elderly unsafe driver retire from the road. Here are some signs of unsafe driving:
1. Drifts into other lanes
2. Straddles lanes
3. Makes sudden lane changes
4. Ignores or misses stop signs and traffic signals
5. Gets easily confused in traffic
6. Brakes or stops abruptly without cause
7. Accelerates suddenly without reason
8. Coasts to a near stop in the midst of moving traffic
9. Presses simultaneously on the brake and accelerator while driving
10. Has difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects and other vehicles
11. Is increasingly nervous when driving
12. Drives at significantly slower than the posted speed or general speed of other vehicles
13. Backs up after missing an exit or road
14. Difficultly reacting quickly as they process multiple images or sounds
15. Problems with neck flexibility in turning to see traffic on the left or right
16. Gets lost or disoriented easily, even in familiar places
17. Fails to use the turn signal, or keeps the signal on without changing lanes
18. Increased “close calls” and “near misses”
19. Has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years
20. Dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs
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 is showing signs of being an unsafe driver, 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.