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5 signs that indicate an older person cannot drive safely

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2024 | Estate Planning

Driving is a key part of independence for many older adults. However, aging can bring along physical and mental changes that may impact driving abilities.

Recognizing these signs can help ensure the safety of older drivers and everyone on the road.

1. Difficulty with vision

Good vision is important for safe driving. However, an older person may struggle to see various things such as road signs, traffic lights or pedestrians if their vision deteriorates, and they could even have trouble with glare from headlights or sunlight. If these problems occur, it could be a sign that driving is no longer safe.

2. Slower reaction times

Reaction time can help people respond to sudden changes, like a car stopping abruptly or a child running into the street. Aging often slows down reaction times, making it harder to avoid accidents. If an older person frequently brakes suddenly or reacts late to traffic signals, this may indicate unsafe driving.

3. Confusion and memory loss

Cognitive decline can affect an older person’s ability to drive safely, which includes losing track of where they are on familiar routes or forgetting where they are going. Confusion at intersections or difficulty following directions are also signs of concern. These issues could lead to dangerous situations on the road.

4. Physical limitations

Driving requires physical coordination and strength. Arthritis, muscle weakness or other physical ailments can make it difficult to turn the steering wheel, press the pedals or check blind spots. If an older person struggles with serious medical conditions, it may be time to reconsider their driving status.

5. Increased accidents and close calls

A pattern of minor accidents, traffic tickets or close calls suggests declining driving skills. Even if these incidents do not result in serious injury, they indicate that an older driver is having trouble handling the car and traffic situations safely. When an elderly person can no longer drive safely, guardianship might become important to look into.

Aging can be confusing and overwhelming for many individuals. Helping loved ones maintain a good quality of life while protecting their future through estate planning is important.