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Convincing older drivers to give up the keys

It can be a tough moment for children and parents
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2019-01-31 19:16:58-05
Your car and your drivers licence are your tickets to freedom, but as you get older, you may need to give them up before you have a moment like the scenes we sometimes see when an older driver hits the gas instead of the brake and drives through a storefront.
 
Someday, your child, a friend, or your doctor will tell you---it's time to give up the keys and it will probably be tough for everyone involved.
 
In January an 89 year old man driving from Skyline onto Sunrise and hit and killed a 69 year old bicyclist.  Part of the investigation included testing him on his competence to drive.
     
But the stats show the overall accident rate for older drivers is not very different from other drivers.
 
In Arizona, drivers older than 75 are more than six percent of all licensed drivers. They account for three percent of wrecks with only property damage and six percent of fatalities.
     
But older drivers must be on guard against the way age and illness can affect their safety.
     
That's where classes like one from AARP come in.  Students told us they came to class because it helps secure insurance discounts.
 
70 year old Lorene Shough says her driving is still sharp.
 
"I just have seen other drivers.  You can see them making crazy mistakes out there on the road.  I don't want to get that way, so..."
       
Instructor Stan Mead updates students on new laws, and reminds them how aging, medication, and alcohol can affect their driving.
 
Sometimes older drivers have problems beyond reflexes, hearing or weak vision.  Maybe you'll have arthritis in your neck or back that makes it hard to see when you're merging, or look back to back up.
 
Legs weak from age or illness can make a driver accidentally hit the gas when they meant to hit the brake.
       
Custom fitting a car and making sure a driver understands their changing abilities can keep them driving safely but eventually it can be time for what AARP calls "the Talk"--- the day a friend or family member says it's time to stop driving.
         
Stan Mead says a parent may resent what they see as a child taking their authority and independence, so maybe a doctor or friend should bring up that reality check.
 
"How many dents are you getting in your car?  Why did you just make a new back door in the garage when you don't need one? Accidentally.  Or did you for sure run over that curb incorrectly?"
72 year old Ray Moya says his driving's still safe.  He says it may be tough but he will not fight it when he or his family decides it's time to stop.
 
“And they already told me, 'grandpa, when it comes time to stop driving, I will drive you here and I will drive you there.  Well, it's really easy to say, I wonder if they're going to do that but I think it will at least be easier for me than other people because I do have that."