News 6 - December 6, 2023 6:07 am

It’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021 people 65 and older made up 17% of all traffic fatalities.

Taking a loved one’s keys away is never easy.

Kip Jordan recently had to do it to his 80-year-old mom.

“She had started coming home with dings on her car and I would ask her kind of what happened, where that was, and she would just kind of think that somebody else hit her car,” Jordan said. “I knew after a while when things started showing up, it was probably more or less her bumping into other people at the grocery store or somewhere.”

Driving rehabilitation specialist Elizabeth Soles says having those conversations early can help seniors prepare for the transition.

“If you have had those open and honest conversations with your loved one, that you know you’re starting to see some things with your driving that you’re concerned about, let’s go get some more information,” Soles said.

The holidays are a great time to talk.

“Families are gathering and this is a time to observe and have those conversations with that older loved one,” said Soles. “Are they still comfortable driving? Are they experiencing any problems with driving that they’re willing to talk about?”

If an older loved one isn’t at the point of hanging up their keys, putting a plan in place can help keep them safe.

“Consider daytime driving only, consider driving when it’s going to be low traffic, so if you live in a congested area, maybe drive when you know it’s not going to be rush hour, lunchtime hour driving, consider reducing the radius, the amount of miles you drive from home, stay in familiar areas,” Soles said.

Kip’s family is a perfect example of recognizing when it was time and how to take the next step.

“It was too unsafe for her and somebody else, so I just had my other family kind of chime in, we all just said, hey, we got to get rid of your car, so she finally let us,” Jordan said.

Soles also says to start transitions before you take the keys away. Teach them how to get their meals, groceries, and medications delivered to their home.

Remember, one day, you will also have your keys taken away, so be empathetic.


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