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There is no bright line rule that says once a driver reaches a certain age that they must give up their license. While a few states have laws requiring older drivers to confirm they are physically able to continue driving, most do not. Instead, drivers must use their best discretion when deciding to stop driving and not renew their driver's license.
For many seniors, making the decision to stop driving is not easy. Giving up driving might feel like giving up their independence. However, when the warning signs start to present themselves, older drivers that continue to drive not only endanger themselves, but also the public at large.
Below, you will find some of the common warning signs that should make older drivers consider giving it up.
1. Driving Causes Physical Pain or Discomfort
If turning the wheel, shifting gears, or any of the other movements required to drive causes pain or discomfort, a driver may want to consider giving up driving. While there may be medications that can help with the pain, there is frequently a trade off (discussed below). Additionally, sometimes, as people age, they find their muscles are no longer strong enough to drive. In these situations, particularly if the pain, discomfort or weakness is not expected to get better in time, an older driver may want to consider giving up their license.
2. Visual and Auditory Problems
Frequently, as people age, their sight and hearing may begin to deteriorate. While clearly vision is important for driving, hearing can be as well. Generally, if a person's vision has deteriorated and cannot be corrected by glasses, it is likely time to give up driving.
Hearing problems alone may not justify giving up driving, but may just be one of a few or many other reasons.
3. Physical/Mental Maladies
On top of just old age, individuals often start suffering from diseases or illnesses that tend to only affect older people. Even having a common cold can significantly impact driving ability. Particular conditions like Alzheimer's or Dementia can be incredibly dangerous conditions for a driver to have. If a person has one of these conditions, even if it is not severe, it is a wise choice for them to stop driving.
4. Medication and Side Effects
Some medications, while they may remedy other problems, have side effects that can make driving incredibly dangerous. Many medications will make a person drowsy, and it is commonly accepted that sleepiness and driving do not mix well. As people age, they frequently begin taking more and more daily medications. It is important to know which medications may have an impact on driving abilities.
Asking a parent or loved one to stop driving due to age is never an easy task. Consider why they would not want to stop driving, and try to provide a solution when starting the discussion. Sometimes asking for outside help could make all the difference.