7 Warning Signs Your Elderly Parent Should Stop Driving

If you’re worried about your elderly parents driving, there are some warning signs you can look for to determine if it’s time to take away their keys.

While this may seem like an uncomfortable situation, encouraging an elderly parent to stop driving protects not only them but other drivers on the road. Here are seven of the most common warning signs that your aging parent may need to stop driving. Keep in mind that not all elderly drivers are dangerous drivers, some people in the 80s and even 90s are competent and safe behind the wheel.

1. If they show signs of confusion or delayed reaction

If your parent shows signs of confusion, forgetting which is the brake and which the gas is, for example, it may be time for them to stop driving. If they get confused over direction, get lost easily even in familiar locations or have a hard time following street signs, you should have a discussion about their ability to continue driving.

Slower reaction times can be dangerous, especially if your parent is having a hard time responding to traffic changes and emergency situations.

2. If you notice more dings and dents in their vehicle

If you’ve noticed a growing amount of dings and dents in your parent’s vehicle, this can be a sign that something is wrong. Older people that may fear their license being taken away may not tell the family about small accidents and tickets.

Look for evidence of small fender benders or other visible signs of frequent damage to their vehicle. Many instances of minor accidents can foreshadow the possibility of a large one.

3. If other people are getting scared

If friends and family of your parent are getting scared while driving with them, this is a definite sign that they may need to stop driving.

Take a ride with your parent and observe the way they react to different situations. Are they experiencing road rage more than usual? Do you feel scared when they are driving? It is common for even the best of drivers to make mistakes behind the wheel but if you notice your parent making many mistakes in a single car ride that can be a bad sign. Simple things such as forgetting to use a turn signal, not stopping at a stop sign, or veering into oncoming traffic can be small but dangerous driving mistakes.

4. If they take a medication that hinders their driving ability

Certain medications can cause side effects that can negatively impact your parent’s ability to drive. Blurred vision, drowsiness, and confusion or tremors are just a few of these symptoms.

If your parent is taking multiple medications, these can react negatively when taken together. If you notice these symptoms affecting your parent’s ability to drive, talk with them and their doctor to determine if they should continue to drive.

5. If their eyesight is failing or they are straining to see

Drivers must have good eyesight in order to stay safe on the road. If your parent is having difficulty seeing not only the road but other cars, pedestrians, and traffic signals during daytime or nighttime driving, this is a big warning sign that they should not continue to drive.

Inability to see over the steering wheel, the speedometer or to check their blind spots are only a few more examples of failing eyesight while driving. Encourage your parent to get regular eye exams and wear the proper prescription eyeglasses if necessary.

6. If their hearing is impaired

Hearing loss can be gradual. If your parent has trouble hearing, they will not be able to hear a warning horn, emergency vehicles or other sounds that will keep them safe on the road.  Ask your parent to get regular hearing tests or talk to her doctor if you notice signs of hearing impairment.

7. If they show signs of physical limitations

Driving can be difficult if your parent shows signs of physical limitations. If your parent has difficulty pushing in the gas or brake pedals, operating the gear shift, see above the steering wheel or turning to look out windows before turning or merging, this can be an indicator of physical limitations.

If you’re unsure of your parent’s ability to drive, bring up your concerns with them and their doctor. You may feel nervous or uncomfortable about confronting your parent about unsafe driving practices but it will be safer for them and other drivers in the long run.

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