When are you too old to drive?

I don’t think this is a fair question, but it is the one that most often comes up. It’s really not about age, but about ability and competence.

The Washington Post ran a story Should older drivers quit? Families key in wrenching decision, need docs, better tests to helpThe story includes a few simple tests the American Medical Association recommends that doctors administer when advising older drivers. Among them:

—Walk 10 feet down the hallway, turn around and come back. Taking longer than 9 seconds is linked to driving problems.

—On a page with the letters A to L and the numbers 1 to 13 randomly arranged, see how quickly and accurately you draw a line from 1 to A, then to 2, then to B and so on. This so-called trail-making test measures memory, spatial processing and other brain skills, and doing poorly has been linked to at-fault crashes.

—Check if people can turn their necks far enough to change lanes, and have the strength to slam on brakes.

We live in Virginia and it took us three different doctors before one knew that the state has a provision to revoke a license. She swiftly completed both forms for my parents.

However, we knew it was time when we would no longer ask “nana” and “pop-pop” to pick our kids up from school. That was more than two years ago.

I don’t think those tests account for someone with dementia. You need to make quick decisions.  I’ve been with my parents when they got lost in the midst of driving a route that used to be routine. My dad would drive faster when he was lost — like he was almost in hurry to find a place he recognized.

I’m glad they no longer have their licenses. Now, if they would only remember! Contemplated.

Was there a defining moment when you knew your loved one should stop driving? What was it?

6 comments on “When are you too old to drive?

  1. I agree, it’s not about age, it’s about competency.
    My story:

  2. […] Bransford wrote on her Dealing With Dementia blog yesterday, When are you too old to drive?, and alerted me to this story in The Washington Post  Should older drivers quit? Families key in […]

  3. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and the rest of the site is extremely good.

  4. My grandmother is much younger than my grandfather, but when she got lost once (she had always had an excellent sense of direction) he became the designated driver.

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