When to Quit Driving

When to Quit Driving

The headlines went something like this: "80+ Year-Old Driver Kills Two."

It seems a lady and her small child were walking alongside a road (not in the road) and somehow the driver veered off and struck the two pedestrians.

The subject became a very hot topic in our retirement village. Some were almost foaming at the mouth as they spoke of their adult children wanting to take away their driving privileges.

"It's what makes me independent," one said. "I'll never give it up!" Others were inclined to say they might, but at some time in the future.

A flux of problems is presented as people live longer. It's true that, for many, a car is the last sign of independence, and they're not about to give it up. Sometimes it has more to do with power issues between parents and children than about actual driving.

In my town, I get a first-hand look at some of the problems of advanced age and how they relate to driving. I was nearly backed over by an elderly driver the other day when I walked to the store. I also see some incredibly creative ways of parking and other traffic violations.

Lest this sound like an overgeneralization, I know not all senior citizens are bad drivers. Many, in fact, are far more careful than younger people and more apt to obey traffic regulations. However, a sizable number of elderly people may be driving while taking medications, which may impair their faculties. Some experience vision difficulties or physical limitations. It is truly unsafe to have them on the road, both for themselves and for innocent drivers or pedestrians.

I still have my driver's license and drive when necessary, but because of certain medications I take, I have to choose not to take them or not to drive. Before panic sets in about being housebound or at the whim of family members or friends, it's time to do some research into what's available for those without a car.

In our retirement town, we have Red Cross shuttle buses that will take you most anywhere and bring you back for a modest fee (less than what gas would cost). They wait while you shop or go to the doctor or do whatever you need to do.

Many times, the amount of money you spend on maintenance for your car, insurance, licensing, tires, auto club dues, and other costs, make taking a taxi a much cheaper mode of transportation. This can be a great help if you are on a fixed income.

Mass transportation is also available, if health permits. I find that making the most of what is within walking distance lessens the amount of time I need transportation. Physicians, dentists, and other professionals practice in my small town, and I walk to all of them. If I can't walk, I can still order groceries and ask for them to be delivered from our small grocery store. A pharmacy and post office are also within walking distance.

Some of the real issues as you get older are

Safe driving for you and other people on the road

Working through issues of control with your adult children

Being wise enough to know when you need to quit driving and acquainting yourself with what's available beforethe time comes

Being realistic about your abilities and disabilities

Recognizing that it is your responsibility to decide when to quit driving before it becomes necessary for someone to decide for you

"The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. . . . Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course" (Proverbs 2:6, 9, NASB).

By: Crystal Ortmann