Seniors: Time to Hang Up the Keys?

By Matthew Askari | August 31, 2012
It's a frequent and uncomfortable question: Is it time to hang up the keys? Has an older driver become an unsafe or less capable driver? It seems we do everything to stay young, as a nation we're lousy at aging. There's ego at play, and stigma, and avoidance of admitting that at some point, your abilities will deteriorate. This is all the more pressing as a 100-year-old L.A. area man ran over 11 people this week, nine of them children. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the man said he believes the brakes of his 1990 Cadillac failed, but investigators believe he may have accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. Unfortunately, occurrences like these have happened before, and are bound to be repeated as long as unsafe drivers are on the road. So how can you tell if you or a loved one should hang up the keys? Thankfully, AAA has a series of guidelines that can help you assess if a person should stop driving. AAA points out that many drivers can safely operate their cars well in to old age, and that age itself is not an indication. There are other factors to look at, such as whether the person has been issued two or more tickets or warnings in the past two years, or has been involved in two or more accidents or "near misses." If possible, it may be helpful to ride with the person you're concerned about and watch for signs. AAA says other indications could be passing through stop signs or red lights—hopefully you're not in the car when this occurs—weaving in and out of lanes or taking up more than one lane, or getting honked at or passed frequently. Check AAA's site for a complete list of warning signs. It could prevent a disastrous accident.
Source: LA Times, AAA