The Decision to stop driving
For most Americans, a driver's license is considered the first outward and visible step toward becoming an adult. Today, many of us see cars as physical extensions of ourselves - transporting us wherever we want, whenever we want, like a high-speed second pair of legs. However, there comes a time when driving may no longer be an option. The decision to stop driving is never easy for the driver, his or her family members or caregivers. The key for a positive transition to giving up the car keys is PLANNING.
Take the AARP "Judging My Driving" quiz. Just click here to download the quiz so you can evaluate your driving status. The Iowa DOT's Office of Driver Services’ Senior Driver’s Workbook includes tips for safe driving along with a quiz to help older drivers assess their driving ability. There is also a quiz on highway signs, and a multiple choice and true and false questionnaire that can test your knowledge of Iowa driving laws and regulations. To download a copy of the workbook, click here or visit the Office of Driver Services' Web site at http://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/ods/senior.pdf.
There are a variety of resources and information to assist older drivers, families and caregivers with the issue of driving cessation. The Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging's Web site includes a search function that enables residents to find driver evaluation resources in their county. To find an evaluation program near you, visit http://www.i4a.org/search.php, click on driver evaluation and your county. For more information visit these Web sites by accessing these links.
- Iowa DOT’s Driving Retirement booklet provides useful tips and information on how to make the decision to stop driving a positive one. To view the booklet, click here or visit the Web site at http://www.iamvd.com/ods/drivingretirement.pdf.
- AARP's When to Stop Driving provides valuable information that can be accessed by clicking here or visit AARP's Web site at http://www.aarp.org.
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's How to Help an Older Driver provides information to help seniors or their family members learn how to give up the keys and still remain active and mobile. To view click here or visit http://www.seniordrivers.org.
- The Hartford's Family Conversations with Older Drivers includes information to help families initiate productive and caring conversations with older adults about driving safety. To view, click here or visit http://www.thehartford.com/talkwitholderdrivers.
AARP provides a helpful list of warning signs that indicate it may be necessary to limit or stop driving. Following are some warning signs:
- Feeling uncomfortable and nervous or fearful while driving;
- Dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs etc.;
- Difficulty staying in the lane of travel;
- Getting lost;
- Trouble paying attention to signals, road signs and pavement markings;
- Slower response to unexpected situations;
- Medical conditions or medications that may be affecting the ability to handle the car safely;
- Frequent "close calls" (i.e. almost crashing);
- Trouble judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance/exit ramps;
- Other drivers honking at you and instances when you are angry at other drivers;
- Friends or relatives not wanting to drive with you;
- Difficulty seeing the sides of the road when looking straight ahead;
- Easily distracted or having a hard time concentrating while driving;
- Having a hard time turning around to check over your shoulder while backing up or changing lanes; and
- Frequent traffic tickets or "warnings" by traffic or law enforcement officers in the last year or two.
AARP recommends that if you notice one or more of these warning signs you may want to have your driving assessed by a professional or attend a driver refresher class. They also indicate it may be a good idea to consult with a doctor if you are having unusual concentration or memory problems, or other physical symptoms that may be affecting your ability to drive.