It isn’t always easy to know when a loved one becomes an unsafe driver. For most elderly individuals, they can continue to drive safely for the rest of their lives. For others, however, they slowly begin to pose a threat to themselves and others on the road. If you’re worried about a senior, these five signs can help you identify if they’ve become a risk.
One or two dings is nothing to worry about, especially if your loved one can tell you how they happened. However, more than two is reason to be concerned. If you notice multiple dents, scrapes, or scratches, then it’s vital that you ask the senior where they came from.
If they can’t explain them or remember, take this as a red flag. They could end up in a more serious accident and may need memory care services in the near future. At the same time, minor damages are devaluing their vehicle.
There are a lot of mistakes drivers make, but confusing the gas pedal for the brake or vice versa isn’t one of them. This is a sign of mild dementia, which is somewhat common after age 65. They might also confuse other controls, like their headlights or turn signals.
Some people are prone to irritability when driving, commonly yelling at careless drivers. If your loved one wasn’t like this before and begins to become agitated with other drivers frequently, it could indicate that they’re dealing with chronic pain.
Left unchecked, this agitation can turn into rash decisions and poor judgment. Road rage is a serious issue, causing thousands of injuries each year. If a senior can no longer stay calm, then it might be time to let others drive them.
Inability to Maintain Speed or Lane
Weaving in-between lanes is a common sign of drunk or distracted driving, but it can also indicate that a senior is dealing with a variety of issues. Vision problems are the most common, but fatigue and an inability to focus are equally as dangerous.
While vision issues can be remedied, a lack of ability to stay focused can signal cognitive issues. Fatigue can come from a need for more sleep, chronic pain, and various other complications. If you notice this behavior developing, it’s time for the senior to realize they’re a danger to themselves and others.
Not Looking Back
As people age, their mobility starts to suffer. Seniors might stop looking backward when reversing or changing lanes because of this. If you notice this new behavior, then their lack of mobility is making them an unsafe driver. Driving while ability impaired is a fast track to an accident.
Not checking their mirrors is another red flag. It’s a sign of forgetfulness, possibly indicating cognitive decline. In either of these scenarios, it’s time to consider what options are on the table. Both make any driver a danger on the road.