When should you hang up your keys?
During this past summer I had the chance to play baseball in an “Old-timer’s” league. This was for men aged 35 and older. I’m much older than 35, but in the last inning I dove to catch a ball. I missed the ball, but I gave it the best dive I could. I ended up injuring myself and at that point I realized that I was past my prime and should not attempt to do things that I used to do quite easily. Do you know someone who may also have this problem? Maybe someone who should hang up their car keys because they can’t seem to grasp safe driving any longer?
One of the toughest jobs I have at Young Drivers of Canada is taking out senior drivers to help them pass a Government road test. At some point in their lives they were a good driver, but as time went on, they lost their edge. Their vision has decreased, their reaction time has decreased and their short term memory also has decreased. Since these are all skills we need as drivers, it became difficult for some drivers to drive safely. I worked hard to get their skills back to the level of being safe drivers; but it wasn’t happening.
I once had a senior driver who’s son had asked me to evaluate her driving. She was such a nice lady, but had the consistent problem of stopping whenever she came across a white line that crossed her path. This would mean any crosswalk, whether the light was green or red. There was obviously some confusion and I did my best to help, but her son and I realized improvement wasn’t going to happen. He contacted her doctor and asked that they take her license from her. After some medical tests were completed, they agreed.
That’s another occupation with the unenviable job of giving out bad news to drivers; the medical field. They are obligated by law to take the license from the driver if their health will put their driving at risk. Since most drivers feel their license is a way of life and mobility, some doctors won’t do it. What about the risk to society or the community if this driver crashed and was injured or killed? We can only say so much as friends and family, but if the doctor says you’re not medically fit to drive, then that’s it; party over.
My grandfather decided many years ago that he didn’t want to drive. His eyesight was getting worse and he felt very uncomfortable. He voluntarily gave up his license and sold his car. For the rest of his life he took public transportation and got rides from friends and relatives. This allowed him to relax and enjoy life once again. It was a good choice for him.
So now you have to decide; should you or a loved one continue driving and risk the health of the driver, passengers and other road users. Or should it be time to make alternative plans for getting around. You need to make this choice soon, either for yourself or for the person you care about.