A new study from AAA shows that nearly 83% of older drivers report never speaking to a family member or physician about their safe driving ability.
In 2016, more than 200,000 drivers older than 65 were injured and more than 3,500 died in crashes.
AAA says the average driver outlives their ability to drive safely by at least seven years; and older drivers are more likely to be killed in a crash because their bodies are more fragile than those of younger drivers. So now, AAA is urging seniors to begin planning for "driver retirement" at the same time they begin planning to retire from their jobs.
“The right time to stop driving varies for everyone,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety. “This research shows that older drivers can be hesitant to initiate conversations about their driving capabilities, so it is important that families encourage them to talk early and often about their future behind the wheel."
AAA says you should not wait until "red flags" like crashes, new medical diagnoses or worsening health conditions emerge to begin talking about driving safety. There are five steps AAA recommends to take when you start these discussions.
- Start early and talk often: Be positive, be supportive and focus on ways to help keep them safe when behind the wheel, including other forms of transportation available to older drivers.
- Avoid generalizations: Do not jump to conclusions about an older driver’s skills or abilities.
- Speak one-on-one: Keep the discussion between you and the older driver. Inviting the whole family to the conversation can create feelings of alienation or anger.
- Focus on the facts: Stick to information you know, like a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. Do not accuse an older driver of being unsafe or assume that driving should be stopped altogether.
- Plan Together: Allow the older driver to play an active role in developing the plan for their driving retirement.