When Should Your Elderly Client Turn Over the Car Keys?

When Should Your Elderly Client Turn Over the Car Keys?

  Here are some possible scenarios: 

  • An elderly man runs through a red light and says he didn't see it.
  • An elderly woman gets on the freeway, cruising along at 35 mph in the passing lane and wonders why everyone is honking their horns.
  • One night, an aging relative calls for help in getting home from the movies after getting lost in what used to be a familiar neighborhood.

All of these incidents are signs that it may be time for an elderly person to stop driving. This is a difficult decision because many Americans equate their cars with independence and self-sufficiency. But as people age, their driving skills can deteriorate, especially with the onset of some medical conditions. So how do you know when it's time to take away a license and what is the best way to break the news?

Familiarize yourself with the signs of unsafe driving and see if your loved one qualifies as a danger on the roads. Some indicators are: driving at inappropriate speeds -- either too fast or too slow, wavering between lanes, vision or hearing problems, difficulty in making turns, a slowing of response time, and a string of tickets.

Other signs include frequently getting lost, becoming drowsy from medication, ignoring mechanical problems with the car, having difficulty in judging distances, and losing the ability to concentrate while driving.


Older Driver Statistics

According to the AARP:
    Drivers age 55 and over, compared with drivers aged 30-54, are involved in more accidents per mile driven.

The number of miles must be taken into account in order to accurately compare older and younger drivers. The number of accidents per mile rises sharply at about age 75.
    The traffic violation committed most often by drivers aged 50 and older is failure to observe right-of-way.
    The second most often committed traffic violation by drivers aged 50 and older is making an improper left turn. The most common reasons for this problem are failure to obey left turn signs and signals, improper positioning of the vehicle, and misjudging the speed of oncoming vehicles.

Gregory Herman-Giddens, JD, LLM, TEP, CFP, Attorney at Law (NC, FL, TN), Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law (NC). North Carolina Registered Guardian, Solicitor, England and Wales.    Follow his blog, North Carolina Estate Planning Blog..