Author: Peggy Gannon
Every month seems to have some type of “awareness month” or “week” attached to it. December is no different and is actually one that holds some importance to me. December 2-6 is National Older Driver Awareness Week and it is one topic, no matter who we are, that has the potential to affect us. The goal of the week is “to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure that older adults remain active in the community with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home” (AOTA, 2013).
Each one of us has either a parent, sibling, spouse, aunt, uncle, other relative or friend who we consider elderly. Most of us also either drive or at some point are a passenger in a car and come in contact with older adults that way. The focus of the awareness week is as much for the older driver as it is for the rest of us who are on our way.
The focus of the week is both the continuation of driving and the need to recognize when it may be time to stop. There is a lot of important information on the AOTA website in regards to this event, and I encourage you to read it. Each day is designated with a topic to discuss with your loved one. Other agencies that deal with the aging population have also made presentations and given information that may be helpful, such as AAA’s web link or Manatee County in Florida.
Driving is not an easy topic to bring up with someone you care about and it is a painful topic for someone to mull over in their own mind. Driving is that independence that allows us to feel like we are still in control. As we age, the need for control over something becomes even more prominent because we are not able to do many of the things of our youth. You will hear me say this every time I speak about driving…it is a privilege and you were not born with a driver’s license in your diaper! If you are concerned about someone you love, there are a number of warning signs that indicate an older driver might need assistance. These include:
- Does not obey stop signs or traffic lights
- Fails to yield the right of way
- Drives too slowly or too quickly
- Often gets lost, even on familiar routes
- Stops at a green light or at the wrong time
- Doesn’t seem to notice other cars, pedestrians, or bike riders on the road
- Doesn’t stay in his or her lane
- Is honked at or passed often
- Reacts slowly to driving situations
- Makes poor driving decisions
You need to make the right decision and not ignore the signs. I am a firm believer in meeting things head on and being honest…there is no room for sidestepping when people’s safety is at risk.
If you or someone you love has questions about their driving, check our website or call 904-345-7242 for more information.