Ideally, parents come to their senses and hand over the car keys when their driving skills become compromised. Part One of this series offered tips on negotiating impaired drivers off the road. Part Two encourages older drivers to monitor their driving abilities and suggests transportation options.
Keep older drivers safer behind the wheel.
Helping your parents maintain the status of “safe driver” is the first approach to extending their driving capabilities. Discuss the following possibilities:
- Arrange a physical exam including a vision and hearing check-up
- Review medications with the doctor or pharmacist and discuss side effects
- Purchase a wide rear view mirror and add a seat cushion for height
- Keep a cell phone charger plugged in at all times
- Avoid left turns as much as possible
- Encourage daytime driving in good weather and shorter trips
- Suggest a specific exercise program to improve overall fitness
- Keep the car in excellent working condition
- Make sure auto insurance payments are up to date
Consider a driver assessment.
Perhaps your parents may be willing to take a driver safety course. Type “roadwise” in the AAA (www.aaa.com) website search engine. They can also check out the AARP Driver Safety Program (www.aarpdriversafety.org).
If parents pass the driver’s test, they deserve to exercise their right to drive.
Test drive transportation alternatives.
Americans have developed a lifelong reliance on automobiles. Not driving is hard to get used to and requires a great deal of planning. One way for people to learn how to get around without driving is to ask other adults who have never driven how they do it. Start talking about transportation options early on:
- Ride with family, friends and neighbors
- Take on-demand taxi services.
- Ride share and car pool when night driving becomes difficult
- Inquire at church and senior centers about volunteers who may be available to drive.
- Inquire about para-transit services offered by hospitals, doctor offices and shopping malls.
- Walk to nearby places.
- Explore public transportation options.
- Move to an older adult housing community where transportation is provided.
- Relocate where everything is close at hand and you can walk there or take a taxi – grocery stores, health-care services, shops, social events.