Identify Warning Signs for Older Drivers

Part of the Planning For Long-Term Care For Dummies Cheat Sheet

For older adults and their families, driving is often a flash point. When is it time to give up the keys? Waiting until there is a serious accident is not advisable. Most older drivers are safe drivers, but some monitoring and caution are appropriate. Here are some warning signs for older drivers from "We Need To Talk: Family Conversations with Older Drivers," produced by The Hartford.

The driving behaviors listed here could cause safety problems. They are ranked from minor to serious. Many of the less serious issues may be overcome with changes in driving behavior or physical fitness, while the more serious behaviors may require your immediate action. Since driving ability seldom changes drastically in a short time, you should be able to track changes over time to get a clear picture of overall driving ability.

Here's how to use this list.

  • Observe driving over time, keep notes to help you understand changes in driving ability.

  • Look for a pattern of warning signs and for an increase in the frequency of occurrence.

Consider these warning signs when observing older drivers:

  • Decrease in confidence while driving.

  • Difficulty turning to see when backing up.

  • Riding the brake.

  • Easily distracted while driving.

  • Other drivers often honk horns.

  • Incorrect signaling.

  • Parking inappropriately.

  • Hitting curbs.

  • Scrapes or dents on the car, mailbox or garage.

  • Increased agitation or irritation when driving.

  • Failure to notice important activity on the side of the road.

  • Failure to notice traffic signs.

  • Trouble navigating turns.

  • Driving at inappropriate speeds.

  • Not anticipating potential dangerous situations.

  • Uses a "copilot."

  • Bad judgment on making left-hand turns.

  • Near misses.

  • Delayed response to unexpected situations.

  • Moving into wrong lane.

  • Difficulty maintaining lane position.

  • Confusion at exits.

  • Ticketed moving violations or warnings.

  • Getting lost in familiar places.

  • Car accident.

  • Failure to stop at stop sign or red light.

  • Confusing the gas and brake pedals.

  • Stopping in traffic for no apparent reason.

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