Is It Time To Take Away an Older Adult’s Car Keys?
It's hard for a caregiver to convince an older parent to give up driving. In many ways, it can feel like giving up one's independence. But there comes a time when it has to be done.
As we age, there are warning signs that driving is no longer a good idea for ourselves or a family member. Our reaction times naturally slow down, and our eyesight worsens.
Statistics even show we develop limited mobility in the neck. Once an older adult driver hits age 65, their chances of getting into an accident while making a left turn increase by 8% every year.
Safety Concerns From Older Loved Ones Driving
The number one issue here is safety, particularly that of your parents and their passengers. They are the most likely to be fatally injured in a car crash, according to Slate.
Moreover, the numbers indicate the chances of this happening increase at the age of 70. When an older adult driver hits 80, there's another marked jump.
Deteriorating driving skills can happen very quickly with Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and other medical conditions or health care impairments — sometimes even at younger ages than you’d expect.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in each state doesn’t always catch older drivers or unsafe driving. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has some tips and ideas for other transportation services, but senior drivers may still resist giving up driving.
Legal Concerns For an Aging Parent’s Driving Ability
In addition to safety, there are some legal issues you need to consider.
Adult children can't be held legally responsible for an older adult parent unless there is a conservatorship. However, older drivers who ignore pleas to stop driving may face a lawsuit that their insurance may not even cover.
They can also face expensive traffic tickets and lose their right to drive through tickets or a car accident.
Alternative Transportation for Unsafe Drivers
Evidence that drivers knew they shouldn't have been on the road can be used to win punitive damages. Large jury awards can lead to the loss of a home and savings. Your parent may end up having to live with you. There's no independence in that.
If it's time to take an older adult driver's keys, be strong if they resist. Just remind your parent that there are transportation options out there. Public transportation, Uber, Lyft, specialized senior transportation, and rides from family are all options.
Remind them that you are committed to helping them live independently, and this may be a step in preventing a permanent consequence.
- 'Families on the Brink:' Older Adult Drivers Balance Independence and Safety (ABC News)
- Driving as an Older Adult: New Accidents Raise Old Questions (Chicago Personal Injury Law)
- Older Drivers and Licensing: What Does Your State's Law Say? (FindLaw's Injured)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.