When Driving Becomes Unsafe

Thanks to our warm weather, low cost of living and preponderance of retirement communities, Florida is currently home to more than 3 million seniors. In the coming years, that number is only expected to grow. By 2030, the state’s population of adults age 65+ is expected to hit 7.7 million!

That means the number of older drivers on Florida’s roads is expected to almost double in the next decade. While many seniors are fantastic drivers, health factors like decreased mobility and impaired vision can lead to problems behind the wheel.

Statistics show the crash rate per miles driven starts to increase for people once they turn 70. Of all age groups, drivers age 85 and older have the highest fatal crash rates.

Florida law requires drivers to pass an eye test every six years after they turn 80. The state has also a launched a program called Florida GrandDriver to help the growing senior population assess their skills and find local driver refresher courses.

But there comes a point in every person’s life where it’s no longer safe for them to be on the road. Often it’s the driver’s friends and family members who have to initiate this emotional conversation.

Don’t Feel Guilty — But Do Have Empathy

The prospect of this conversation may fill you with guilt, but you are doing the right thing. You’re not betraying your father, instead you’re protecting him — as well as other drivers, pedestrians and bikers — from potential harm.

Here are four tips to help you have an honest and productive conversation about his health, his driving ability and whether it’s time to hang up his car keys.

#1 – Have “The Talk”

If your father is getting more traffic citations, having difficulty seeing road signs or understanding directions, or you notice other warning signs his driving skills are impaired, it’s time for a talk. That said, for the talk to be effective, it’s important to empathize with the emotions your father may feel during the conversation. Losing one’s driver license can feel like a major blow to the ego.

#2 – Have a Plan in Place

Your father may have concerns about losing his independence when he stops driving. How will he buy groceries, visit friends or go to the doctor’s office?

That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place before the conversation begins. Research and suggest viable alternatives to driving, including:

  • Getting rides from friends and neighbors
  • Using rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft
  • Taking public transit
  • Signing up for grocery and prescription delivery services
  • Moving to a Florida senior living community

Senior living communities in Florida offer residents services like scheduled transportation, on-site amenities and entertainment, and plenty of opportunities for meaningful interactions with family and friends — no car required.

#3 – Make It a True Conversation

Unless the situation is extreme, don’t approach the conversation as if a final decision has already been made. Instead, consider it more of a discussion. Use open-ended questions to facilitate a healthy dialogue about your father’s health and abilities. Offer to give the new arrangements a trial period, after which everyone regroups to discuss how to overcome any issues that came up along the way.

#4 – If Needed, Involve a Third Party

If the discussions don’t go well, consider bringing in a neutral third party. This could be your father’s doctor, a therapist or a lawyer who specializes in elder care. If you’re seriously worried about your father’s safety and the situation needs to be escalated, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles also offers concerned friends and family members the opportunity to report an unsafe driver anonymously.

For more information on Sonata’s senior living communities, call a community near you today to schedule a visit →


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