Signs Your Aging Parent Should No Longer Drive

In the United States, owning and driving an automobile is a major element of life. The thought of not being able to drive can be … unthinkable. The reality is that if you are the adult child of an aging parent, you may be wondering if the time has come for your parent to hang up his or her car keys. There are some more commonplace signs that the time has arrived for your mother of father to stop driving.

Hearing and Sight Loss

A pair of signs that your parent’s driving days need to end is hearing and sight loss. Yes, corrective devices are available to deal with hearing and sight loss. However, glasses and hearing aids may not be enough to compensate for underlying issues with seeing and hearing. And yes, ultimately your parent will have to take a department of motor vehicles vision test, perhaps even a hearing one. However, the reality is that your parent’s next driver’s license renewal might be years down the proverbial road. Thus, it can fall upon you to be cognizant of the state of hearing of your mother or father and how that is impacting driving ability.

Minor Dents in Your Parent’s Car

Psychology Today has taken on the tough issue of understanding when the time has arrived for an older parent to get out from behind the wheel of a motorcar. According to Psychology Today, minor dents in your parent’s vehicle are an indication that your mother or father is having small crashes that your parent may not even be noticing. “These minor dents can be a harbinger of a more serious accident.”

Easily Distracted

Psychology Today also took up the matter of an aging parent who is easily distracted and the impact of that condition on continued driving. An easily distracted parent can be noticed at home. Easy distraction can be exhibited if a parent frequently starts and then abandons minor tasks. 

This should cause you to ask the question of “when driving, does your parent suddenly lose concentration and become distracted?” If that appears to be occurring, the time very well may have arrived for your parent to discontinue driving. 

Regular Alcohol Consumption

If your aging parent consumes alcohol on a regular basis (a couple of drinks daily, for example), this may have an effect on cognitive abilities and memory. This impact on cognitive abilities and impact may in turn negatively affect driving abilities. Your parent may not be getting behind the wheel of a car intoxicated. However, the use of alcohol may be causing a more lasting impact on cognitive functioning which does impact driving ability.

Slow Reaction Time

As people age, their ability to react to situations can slow. If you are noticing that your parent is experiencing a slow reaction time – especially behind the wheel of his or her car – the time very likely has arrived for your mother or father to stop driving his or her self.

Examples of reaction issues can be seen in a parent who drives through red lights and stop signs. It can also be exhibited in a parent who doesn’t stop promptly – or at all – when something like a ball or animal runs into the road. The alarming reality is that rather than a ball or animal, at a future time, your parent might not react appropriately while driving to a child running into the street. 

Multiple Traffic Infractions

If you parent has started to accumulate multiple tickets arising out of driving a car, this turn of events can be indicative of the need for your mother or father to stop driving. You need to bear two points in mind:

  • Your parent might attempt to hide the fact that he or she is getting traffic tickets. In some instances, these citations may be going unpaid which potentially could result in a warrant being issued for your parent being arrested if he or she is stopped again for a roadway infraction.
  • If traffic infractions accumulate, your parent might face a suspension of his or her driver’s license.

Poor Driving Techniques

Another sign that your aging parent should no longer drive is a demonstration of poor driving techniques. These can include everything from speeding to failure to stop completely when required to do so at intersections. It can also include things like not using a seatbelt or not appropriately gripping a steering wheel. 

You Don’t Want to Be in the Car With Your Parent

Finally, a sign that your aging parent should no longer drive a car is that you find yourself uncomfortable being in a car that your mother or father is driving. In the final analysis, if you are uncomfortable being in a car driving by your parent, your mother or father evidently presents a roadway risk not only to his or her self but to others as well.