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What to look for when determining a senior's fitness to drive

As we watch our parents get older, we notice how much they enjoy their independence and their ability to care for themselves without relying on anyone else. They like to get up and go, do their own shopping, eat out with friends or visit their family members.

But what do you do when you start to sense that maybe your elderly parents shouldn't be behind the wheel anymore? It's important to monitor their driving abilities and watch for signs that it is time for them to stop driving.

AAA estimated that by 2030, 70 million Americans will be over age 65, and as many as 90 percent of them will have driver's licenses. Research shows that number of fatal crashes per mile traveled rises sharply after age 80, often due to drivers' medical conditions rather than their driving abilities.

Some health conditions that could affect a driver's ability include:

  • dementia
  • Parkinson's disease
  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • hearing or vision problems
  • the effects of prescription medications

As we monitor our parents' driving, below are some of the signs that indicate they should hand over their keys:

  • confusion with stop signs and stoplights, e.g., running red lights or stop signs, or stopping for green lights
  • getting disoriented or lost and needing help with directions
  • sideswiping other cars when parking
  • reports from witnesses of unsafe driving practices

When these danger signs are noticed, it is possible to request an evaluation at a driving school to measure your parent's fitness to drive. The last thing you want is for your parent to be in an accident and get injured or cause injury to another person.

If you've been injured in an accident with a senior driver, you have the right to consult with an attorney experienced in such cases to seek repayment of any costs you've incurred, such as medical expenses, as well as other damages.

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