You’ve probably been driving for quite a long time if you’re at retirement age, and you’re probably a pretty good driver with all of that practice. So you may be feeling like your days of driver’s tests and nerves behind the wheel are long behind you. But the reality for many of us as we age is that driving becomes dangerous as our health decreases.
When you pushed the gas pedal the first time, you probably felt a surge of freedom and energy. Many senior citizens fight their doctor or loved ones when they are told that it is time to lose their keys for good, but it is often a decision that is made after a lot of thought and consideration.
While right now you feel confident behind the wheel, you need know that somewhere down the road of life… being on the road may be a risk that is too high to take. Consider the facts:
- “Fatal crash rates rise sharply after a driver has reached the age of 70.”
- “Since senior drivers are more fragile, their fatality rates are 17 times higher than those of 25- to 64-year-olds.”
- “In 2009, nearly 5,300 senior drivers were killed and 187,000 were injured in traffic crashes.”
- “In 2009, more than 60 percent of deaths in crashes involving drivers over age 70 were senior drivers themselves and 16 percent were their passengers. Twenty-two percent of these deaths were occupants of other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The good news is that if aging DOES affect your ability to drive, you can avoid an accident by recognizing the problem and taking action.
How Do You Know?
So, how do you know when it is time to quit driving? Here are a few of the signs:
- You have been involved in or almost been involved in more than one accident in the past two years
- You have gotten more than one traffic violation in the past two years
- You have difficulty staying within the lines of the road
- You find yourself getting lost in familiar places or places you have driven to before
- You are scared to drive alone
- You are having difficulty working your vehicle
- You find yourself driving far too slow or far too fast
- You begin to feel increasingly anxious behind the wheel
If this sounds like you, consider talking to your family or doctor about whether or not it is safe for you to drive. If it doesn’t, remember these signs for the future for you and loved ones.
There are other things that you can do in order to make driving safer for you and those around you. This includes getting regular eye and hearing exams, making sure that you are getting enough sleep to be awake and alert when driving, and being aware of the side effects of your medicine that could decrease your driving ability. If a loved one shows concern about your driving, it is important to be open to what they are telling you and to not get defensive. Remember that they are bringing this up because they care about you!
If you ever decide that it’s time for you to quit driving, there are plenty of transportation options for you to choose from at Sherwood Oaks. Not being a licensed driver does NOT mean that you’ll be stuck at home. We have a fleet of busses that go off-campus each day to local businesses, shopping malls, grocery stores, and into Oakland. For a fee, we can also take you to appointments, shopping at a location of your choice, to the airport, or anywhere else you need to go! Your staff driver can even drive you in your car (just pay an hourly fee), or you are welcome to use a car from Sherwood Oaks at an hourly fee plus mileage.
We will also be hosting an AARP safe driving class on September 24 and 25. Residents and members of the community are welcome to join.
Whether you’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, we want to make sure that you get where you need to go – safely!