4 Seniors: Determining when to stop driving

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OKLAHOMA CITY – As many people get older, it may become unsafe for them to get behind the wheel due to various ailments.

However, taking the keys away from an older parent can be difficult.

First, start by taking a ride with them and watch for problem areas like inappropriate speeds, tailgating and drifting between lanes.Also, take note if they have difficulty seeing, gets confused easily, reacts slowly or makes poor driving decisions.

If you need help with this, a driver rehabilitation specialist is trained to evaluate older drivers. They typically cost between $100 and $200.

After the assessment, if you think it is safe for your parent to drive, see if he or she would be willing to take an older driver refresher course.

The courses show how aging affects driving skills, and offers safety tips. Also, taking a class may earn a discount on auto insurance. To locate a class, contact AAA or AARP. Most courses cost $20 to $30 and can be taken online or in a classroom.

If your assessment shows that your parent really needs to stop driving, start by talking with them and expressing your concern for their safety. However, don’t begin with a dramatic outburst.

For tips on how to talk to your parent, the Hartford Financial Services Group and MIT AgeLab offers a variety of resources. Follow the link and download the “We Need to Talk” guidebook.

If your parent refuses to quit, you may suggest visiting the doctor for a medical evaluation. If warranted, the doctor may prescribe not driving.

If they still refuse, contact the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to see if they can help. You may also call an attorney to talk about the potential financial and legal consequences a crash or injury may cause. If all else fails, you may just have to take away the keys.

Once your parent stops driving, they’re going to need other ways to get around. Help them create a list of names and phone numbers of family, friends and local services they can call. To find transportation services in the area, contact Rides in Sight and the Oklahoma Senior Info line (800-211-2116.)