Old Age Driving – When To Take The Keys Away – Part 1
Old age driving is something I wasn’t paying attention to. I ride motorcycles and bicycles, and my driving skills are still good. I’m 73 and my wife is 72. Life was going along smoothly. I had a job and drove to work daily. My wife has a cat boarding business for the last 12 years. She has her own car. So we both were busy and life was going on.
But in our hectic life, I missed some important signs that my wife’s driving skills were deteriorating.
About 3 years ago, she was involved in an accident where she ran a red light and hit another car. I didn’t think anything about it. I wrote it off to being an accident and things like that happen
Then a year later, she was again involved in an accident where she ran into the back of a car at a stop light. It was early morning and she said the sun was in her eyes. Well, I understood that and just chalked it up to poor judgment in driving.
Now this year she was involved in another accident where she was making a left hand turn at a light and she turned left into the side of another car going in the other direction. If she had turned a second earlier she would have caused a head-on collision and she and other people could have been killed.
That finally got my attention. I have been through that intersection many times, it’s two lanes both directions and there is no way you could not see a car coming in the other direction. I was dumbfounded on how she could have done this.
She had a mid-sized car so I wondered if she have poor visibility as she is short. She sits on a pillow so her visibility should have been fine. She does not use a cell phone when she is driving.
After she got out of the hospital, I took her and let her drive. Her driving skills were non-existent. She followed too close, had a hard time making smooth turns, braking and acceleration were very jerky. I couldn’t believe it. She drove daily in a city of 100,000 and the traffic is bad. It’s not a place to drive with diminished skills.
Well, due to the fact that she had 3 accidents in 3 years, the Motor Vehicle Department required her to re-take a driving exam. She failed the driving test.
I enrolled her in a driving course and had her evaluated. The driving instructor took her out and said she would not pass a driving test. He recommended we have her eyes examined. Her eye examination was fine but the eye doctor recommended having her evaluated by a Neuro Rehabilitation center. Well they ran some tests and it seems that her brain is not processing what she is seeing quickly.
I have also noted that when she rides with me that after 5 minutes, her head droops and she nods off for 30 seconds or so and then wakes up. My suspicion is that this is what happened when she was in her latest accident.
I’ve shared some very personal information and hopefully it will cause you to take action. You see, whenever my wife and I went out, I drove so I never saw her driving skills. Had I rode with her I would have seen that her skills were diminishing. So I take full blame for not addressing this earlier. The signals were there, I just failed to see them.
As we age, we all need to have our driving skills evaluated. At a minimum have someone go out with you and evaluate your driving. If you have an elderly parent or spouse, ride with them to see if they are a safe driver.
We were fortunate, no one was killed. Don’t do like I did. Pay attention. Evaluate old age driving skills of the ones you love.
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