When It’s Time for “The Talk”: Taking Away Dad’s Car Keys

There is a persistent—and untrue—stereotype of the older driver as a menace on North Carolina roads. In fact, a person over age 50 may demonstrate safer driving habits than people from younger age groups. Typically:

  • Older drivers have had more experience behind the wheel, and this experience can more than make up for age-related declines in reaction time, vision, or hearing.
  • Older drivers often have the common sense to avoid higher-risk driving situations—such as night driving, highway driving, or traveling through unfamiliar areas—that could challenge their abilities.
  • Older drivers are less likely to drive after drinking.

When it’s your parent whose skills are failing

Even if older drivers are, as a group, safe drivers, we are most concerned about individual drivers rather than group characteristics. When you notice that your parent or grandparent is having difficulty with fundamental tasks, you have no choice but to express your concern.

Perhaps your father has shown some of these symptoms that often accompany increasing age:

  • Lapses in attention
  • Difficulty seeing objects at a distance, or estimating distance and speed
  • Drowsiness or difficulty concentrating, perhaps due to daily medication
  • Forgetting well-known landmarks or travel routes
  • Slower reflexes
  • Coordination problems or difficulty applying pressure with the foot (and, thus, difficulty using the brake or accelerator pedals)

Any of these may indicate that it’s time for your parent to stop driving.

Persuading Dad to hang up his car keys

Some older drivers voluntarily stop driving when they realize their skills are no longer sufficient to keep themselves and others from harm. But researchers have found that the elderly tend not to recognize when their driving skills are in decline. If that’s the case with your parent or grandparent, you will have to discuss the matter with him before he causes a serious North Carolina traffic accident.

Discuss the matter with compassion. Recognize that use of a vehicle symbolizes independence for your father, so relinquishing the right to drive can fill him with feelings of dependency. You may need to work with your parent to find other transportation options to show that giving up driving need not mean a life confined at home.

Every year, hundreds of North Carolina families have to persuade elderly relatives to stop driving because they can no longer do so safely. Sometimes, that conversation isn’t held early enough. If you have been involved in a Wilmington traffic accident caused by an unsafe, older driver, you need to seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Call Speaks Law Firm today at 877-593-4233. We can schedule a free, confidential interview with a trial attorney at our Wilmington office and also send you a FREE copy of our book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book. There is no obligation.

The Speaks Law Firm represents personal injury cases throughout the Wilmington, North Carolina area, including New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Columbus County, and Robeson County.

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