Seniors with vision loss, slower reaction time or difficulty judging distance may be driving less, especially at night and wondering when it is time to hang up the keys for good. It’s important to have a transportation plan before making the decision permanent or older adults risk becoming isolated; taking fewer trips to visit friends and family, attend community gatherings, go shopping and even keep important medical appointments.
Warning signs that “driving retirement” might be a good idea include: losing your way, loss of confidence, other drivers honking at you, missing traffic lights or stop signs, trouble changing lanes, accidents or traffic tickets, needing help from passenger, mixing up brake/gas pedals and others refusing to drive with you. If any of these warning signs are occurring it is time to have your driving evaluated by a trained professional.
Make a Transportation Plan:
- The first step before stopping driving is to evaluate your driving skills – consider taking a refresher course and have a professional give you their opinion
- Get regular eye exams and make sure your vision is not impaired
- If feedback or health issues say it’s time to stop driving… look into alternatives such as public transportation, volunteer drivers, specialized transport (for seniors or disabled adults) or private transportation (taxis, Uber, Lyft).
- Try making a checklist of transportation options, cost, availability and contact information. For example how will you grocery shop, get to appointments or visit friends and family?
According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) National Household Travel Survey, the number of seniors over 65 using public transportation jumped 40 per cent between 2001 and 2009. The growing number of older adults is expected to result in a continued sharp increase in non-drivers over the next 20 years.
To learn more about older drivers and “driving retirement” in Canada visit http://www.olderdriversafety.ca.