How do I know when to take the keys away from my aging parent?

Elderly Driver on a Curvy New Mexico RoadYour elderly parent values his or her independence, and driving is a big part of that. Losing driving privileges is a difficult transition, but when an elderly person is no longer capable of safe driving, you are doing them—and others on the road—a big favor by taking away the keys.

At Keller & Keller, we have represented victims of tragic car crashes caused by elderly drivers, and we want to do what we can to prevent these unnecessary accidents. Learn to recognize some of the signs that an elderly person’s driving days are over.

When a Senior Should Stop Driving

If you are not part of your elderly parent’s daily life, you may not know there is a problem with their driving until they’ve been involved in a car accident. They probably won’t volunteer the information, so you should inspect their car for dents and scrapes and be tuned into tickets they may have been issued or mentions of court appearances. If you are able to observe their driving, our Albuquerque injury attorney adds, you should be on the lookout for the following signs that they are no longer able to drive safely:

  • Becoming lost in familiar areas
  • Driving at an inconsistent speed
  • Forgetting to use a turn signal
  • Fear and hesitation when merging and changing lanes
  • Not stopping or yielding at signs or traffic lights
  • Failure to acknowledge the right of way
  • Not keeping track of speed limits
  • Feelings of rage: anxiety, and stress towards routine driving tasks

Losing the ability to drive is hard on the person who has lost his freedom, but it is also hard on his family members, who must now assist with transportation. This is why many people put off this difficult conversation for as long as possible, risking an accident that could leave your loved one injured—or responsible for someone’s death.

Be Sensitive but Firm

When it’s time to have this talk with your elderly parent, experts advise that you are empathetic, but don’t give in when you know it’s just not safe for them to drive anymore. Let them know that you are worried about them and ask open-ended questions about their driving experiences, such as:

  • How do you feel when you drive?
  • What challenges have you faced when driving alone?
  • How do you feel when you get lost on the way to a familiar place?
  • Have you noticed other drivers honking or getting angry at you?
  • What changes have you noticed in your ability to do tasks that used to be much easier?

When you start a conversation and ask for your loved one’s input, you may be able to help them come to the conclusion that their driving days are over on their own.

Keller & Keller Is Committed to Driver Safety

The Albuquerque car accident attorney team at Keller & Keller represents injured victims of vehicle crashes. We take on the at-fault driver and his insurance company to make sure our client is compensated for his losses. We don’t want your mom or dad to be our next target. We urge you to protect the safety of everyone involved by taking this difficult step when it’s time.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller