An older loved one has been involved in a crash. Fortunately, it wasn’t wasn’t their fault. Perhaps another driver ran a stop sign, and your family member wasn’t able to react in time to avoid them. Maybe another driver changed lanes without signaling, and they weren’t able to get out of the way in time to avoid a crash.
Driving involves a lot of split-second decisions and constant awareness of your surroundings. Those things are necessary not just to be a safe driver but to do your best to avoid crashes with unsafe ones.
If you’re concerned that an older driver in your family no longer has the physical and/or cognitive abilities necessary to be safe on the road, it may be time to ask them to stop driving — or at least limit their time behind the wheel.
Many people don’t reach the conclusion on their own that they need to hang up the keys and give up something that gives them independence. So how do you decide whether a loved one is no longer a safe driver? Let’s look at some key warning signs:
- Not being able to respond quickly to unexpected situations
- Difficulty staying in their lane
- Becoming distracted easily
- Lack of confidence and increased hesitation
- Small mishaps, like bumping into curbs or posts
- Driving too slowly for conditions
- Having close calls
It’s possible that your loved one may simply need to limit their driving. If these situations happening primarily at night, for example, they may just need to stop driving after dark. A lot of people have difficulty with night driving as they get older.
Every situation is different. You may want to ask your loved one to take a drive with you riding shotgun. This can help you better assess their abilities. Of course, if you believe they’re putting themselves and others in danger whenever they’re behind the wheel, you need to find a way to get them to stop driving entirely. AARP has resources to help people have “the talk” with loved ones.
If a senior loved one has been involved in an accident, don’t let them take the blame for something that was not their fault. Older people can easily find themselves the victims of negligent and reckless drivers. When they are, they have a right to compensation for injuries and damages.