Most Seniors Don’t Know When It’s Time to Stop Driving

As people age, there comes a point when it is no longer safe for them to get behind the wheel of a car. It becomes increasingly difficult for older adults to see at night, and AAA reports a 60-year-old needs three times as much light to see as clearly as a 20-year-old. Hearing loss and slowed reaction times can be contributing factors as well.

While it is necessary for seniors to give up driving eventually, many are unable to tell when their time has come. A recent survey conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) found most older adults (85 percent) think they are "excellent" or "good" drivers. However, 25 percent of this same group of drivers ages 65 to 91 also reported being involved in motor vehicle crashes in the past year.

"A large debate in driving research is whether or not at-risk drivers can self-regulate, and thus possibly reduce their crash risk," said study author Dr. Lesley Ross, an assistant professor in UAB's psychology department. "This research indicates that, at least for this sample, a previous history of four adverse driving outcomes has no relationship with the self-reported driving ability, thus possibly indicating a lack of awareness in regards to driving abilities. The majority of older adults can continue to drive safely well into old age. However, there is a group of older drivers who are at greater risk for crashing."

AAA provides an online assessment test that older drivers can take to determine if they fall into this at-risk category. They should also heed warnings offered by friends, family and physicians when they are told it may be time to hand over their keys. Those who don't have to give up this pastime can head over the New Jersey State Auto Auction to pick out their next ride. The dealer has a variety of makes and models at affordable prices.