There is no single, comprehensive test to determine whether a senior (or anyone else for that matter) is a safe driver. However, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has put together the following safe driver checklist:
- Do you have difficulty seeing clearly in the dusk and dark? Do headlights from other vehicles obstruct your sight?
- Are you easily intimidated by passing vehicles, including trucks and motorcycles?
- Do you have difficulty reading road signs?
- Do you have difficulty following construction detours or seeing a police officer on detail near construction zones?
- Do you have difficulty seeing train crossing signals or hearing train whistles?
- Do you have difficulty keeping up with the posted speed limit?
- Do you get drowsy behind the wheel or have difficulty concentrating?
- Do you have difficulty hearing other vehicles?
- Do you often get lost on once familiar roads?
- Do you forget the basics, such as putting on your head lights and wearing a seat belt?
- Are you unsure of your parking skills? Can you parallel park and park in a straight line?
- Are you unsure of your reflexes and reaction time? Is it difficult to react quickly in certain situations, such as braking to avoid a collision?
- Have your family, friends, or even police officers told you that you aren’t a safe driver?
If you answered yes to many of these questions, you may want to consider driving less or not driving at all. If you’re still not sure, many hospitals, occupational therapists and rehabilitation centers offer driving evaluations. Here is a link to a comprehensive list of driving evaluation programs and driver training classes in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire: http://www.massrmv.com/Portals/30/docs/Med_Affairs_Brochure.pdf. In addition, the RMV offers free, one-hour safe driving workshops. Visit http://www.massrmv.com/MatureDrivers/SafeDrivingPresentationsSchedule.aspx for a list of upcoming workshops.
If it is clear that you or a loved one shouldn’t be driving anymore, what are your options?
Let’s start with the obvious. Having your family or friends drive you around is fine and many loved ones are happy to do it. But what about that sense of freedom we talked about in my last post? One way to regain some of that freedom is to use ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. However, many seniors are uncomfortable with the technology involved. Ride sharing companies have begun to address this. So, too, have other entrepreneurs.
Here are links to two stories about seniors taking advantage of ride sharing options. This one discusses seniors using Uber: https://senior.com/uber-for-elders/. This article describes a newer company that tailors its services specifically to seniors: https://www.fastcompany.com/3035804/this-ride-sharing-service-is-like-uber-for-the-elderly. And here’s one I really like: https://gogograndparent.com. It’s about a company called GoGoGrandparent, which allows seniors to request rides by making a simple phone call. The company even allows users to purchase gift cards for their loved ones.
I would also like to direct you to a site where you can order free booklets about safe driving for seniors: https://www.thehartford.com/resources/mature-market-excellence/publications-on-aging. These booklets contain a number of excellent articles about the emotional issues involved in losing one’s ability to drive and how to broach this difficult topic with loved ones.
I hope you find these links and articles helpful. Drive safely.