Having access to your own car when you are a senior is a great way to feel that you are managing to retain your independence and there no specific rules that say you must give up driving when you reach a certain birthday.
However, there comes a point where you have to be honest with yourself about your ability to stay safe on the road, whether it is because of failing health issues or for some other valid reason, and that means calling time on your driving career and handing over the keys.
This is a decision that is never going to be easy to make, especially as giving up driving will probably feel like you are giving up your independence at the same time.
Here is a look some of the clear warning signs that you need to heed, all of which are telling you that you shouldn’t be taking to the highway again.
If you are experience sight or hearing problems
It stands to reason that you need to be able to see where you are going and if your vision has deteriorated to a point where you can’t see properly even when you are wearing glasses, that makes it dangerous to drive.
It is no longer a comfortable experience
If you find that you are experiencing discomfort or muscle weakness it could have a big impact on your ability to control the wheel properly or change gears.
You might be able to get pain relief for these issues to help you drive but if the pain and discomfort are becoming hard to bear each time you get behind the wheel it might be time to call it a day on your driving career.
You are on regular medications
As you get older it is likely that you will be taking some medications on a regular basis.
This is not a problem itself in terms of your eligibility to drive, but it is the side effects attached to these drugs that could present a problem.
Certain medications can make you feel drowsy and that is not a good state to be in when you are attempting to drive.
Minor dents are becoming a regular feature of your driving
Even the most careful driver can have an accident and that is an accepted risk of driving to a certain extent, but if you are having regular minor skirmishes and near-misses that could be a clear warning sign that your driving skills are no longer up to scratch.
If you do suffer an accident you might require some as to what to do in the circumstances, but you don’t want to get to that point if you can help it and if the dents and near-misses are stacking up it could be time to consider quitting your driving career.
This normally means doing something like texting or using your phone to make a call while you are driving but when you are a senior it could be that you are too easily distracted to drive a vehicle safely, let alone worry about multi-tasking, which is against the law, of course.
If you notice that your mind wanders more often and you suddenly lose concentration this could be a serious problem if you are driving your car when this happens.
If you find that you are now struggling to maintain your focus on the road ahead during each journey that is a definite sign that you should consider giving up driving, for your own safety and other road users too.
Trouble holding your liquor
Hopefully, you are responsible enough to take the issue of drink driving seriously and avoid driving when you know you are over the limit, but it should be noted that even a small amount of alcohol can have a big impact on your body when you are older.
It can be the case that even one drink could have a much greater effect on your ability to drive, even if you are not over the legal limit.
If you enjoy regular alcohol consumption, even on a small scale, it could be enough to impair your ability to drive safely.
Your reactions have become too slow
Another common feature of getting older is that your reaction times will get slower.
This can be a problem when you are driving as it could mean that you fail to
stop in time in an emergency situation, or it might even mean you run a red light or stop sign unintentionally.
If you notice that you are taking too long to hit the brakes or react to changing traffic situations, that could be the cue that your reactions have become too slow to be able to drive safely anymore.
Are you picking up too many tickets?
If your driving record is relatively unblemished overall but the tickets seem to be adding up lately, that could be telling you something about how switched on you are with your driving skills and awareness.
Getting regular parking and speeding tickets could be telling you that your driving ability standards have taken a tumble, and getting a ticket for no headlights at night is just another example of how things might be getting too much for you.
Finding it hard to relax behind the wheel?
Finally, do you find yourself getting anxious and nervous about driving and experience a state of almost constant tension during your journey?
The reason behind this tension could be that you are trying so hard to avoid making a mistake it is causing you to drive abnormally.
No one wants to give up a big part of their independence without careful consideration but if you are demonstrating some worrying signs with your driving techniques and behaviours, it is time to seriously consider whether you should really pick up your car keys again.