When is Too Old to Drive?

Once you have been retired for a while, the topic of driving usually comes up.  This may be something that you stop doing because you no longer feel that it is in your (or others’) best interests, or you may be told that holding a driver’s license is no longer an option for you, for a variety of reasons.

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Everyone must acknowledge that they may not possess the capacity to drive throughout their entire lifetime. Getting older does not necessarily mean you are no longer capable of driving, of course. Many persons continue to drive adequately as they age. If one’s capacity to drive is beginning to diminish, there are usually a few signs.

Many people notice their vision is not as strong as it once was, especially in the bright sunlight or in the dark.  If you are feeling that it is more difficult for you to turn and look, checking blind spots, you may also find that this is decreasing your reaction time.  If you notice any sort of change in your driving, such as getting lost or neglecting to stop at stop signs or traffic lights, this too may be symptoms that it is time to have your driving evaluated.  This thought should only be reinforced if friends or family are reluctant to be in the vehicle with you or speak to you about your driving.

Having your driving evaluated is usually divided into two portions, the initial one being completed by an Occupational Therapist who tests vision, physical movement and reaction time ability.  The final portion is typically the driver instructor assessing how you fare on the road.  The final decision of whether to revoke or return your license is usually made by the Occupational Therapist and the driving instructor together.

Many folks are hesitant to have their driving skills assessed due to the fact that they are concerned their license will be revoked, rendering them dependent on others. Simply having your driving evaluated does not mean this is the case of course, however if it does end up that the decision is made to withhold your license, there are a number of options you can think about to get around.

If your license is revoked, this does not mean your days of independence have to be over.  Most cities have public transit which offer a senior’s discount or deal for a monthly or annual pass.  Many senior centers also offer community shuttle buses to and from events at no cost.  Churches typically over free rides to and from service and also often have drop-in visitors if you are finding it difficult to get out.

If taking groceries by foot or on public transit is not an option, many community centers have volunteers who either drive you to do your grocery shopping, or are able to deliver groceries to you.

If you live in a small town or rural area which does not have public transit, think about calling the township as many of this small communities do have volunteers for seniors who can no longer drive.  If nothing of this sort exists where you live, considering speaking with other seniors in the same position and seeing if something new can be arranged.

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