As we grow older, our eyesight and hearing may worsen, our memory could decline and our reaction times may slow down. This can make driving more difficult, or even unsafe.
Statistics show that the number of traffic fatalities involving motorists ages 65 and older is on the rise. This makes it important to talk about safe driving with your elderly loved ones, including the possibility of stopping driving altogether.
According to statistics from the National Safety Council, from 2020 to 2021 traffic fatalities involving those age 65 or older rose by 15%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates over 9,000 traffic fatalities in 2021 involved older adults.
Talking to your elders about safe driving
Given these alarming statistics, you might want to discuss safe driving with your elderly loved ones especially if you believe they should no longer be driving. Doing so, however, can be a sensitive topic and your message may not be well-received if you do not present it in a certain way.
For example, your loved one may be more receptive to hear this message from a specific relative, so that person might be a good choice to initiate the conversation about safe driving. Sometimes a one-on-one discussion planned ahead of time is more productive than a surprise discussion involving multiple family members suddenly sprung on the individual.
You can explain the unsafe driving practices on the part of your elderly loved one that you have noticed. You might point out that your elderly loved one has been involved in sideswipes or other minor traffic accidents, has run a red light or stop sign resulting in a ticket, is experiencing memory problems or takes regular medication that could affect their driving or is experiencing a decline in their hearing or eyesight.
Discussing unsafe driving with an older person can be difficult, especially if you suggest that they stop driving altogether. Stopping driving can be a blow to a person’s pride and they might be unwilling to make such a change at first. Still, these are important conversations to have to keep your elderly loved one and others on the road safe from serious motor vehicle crashes.