When should older citizens stop driving?

Older drivers should regularly assess their reaction time, driving-related confusion and accident rate to figure out whether they should still be driving.

Most Connecticut drivers have to renew their license every six years according to the Insurance Information Institute, but by the age of 65 residents may be expected to head to the Department of Motor Vehicles as often as every two years. There are 40.1 million drivers 65 years old and older across the country, and 6,490 people in this age group were involved in a car accident that resulted in a fatality in a single year. As people age, their ability to drive may be diminished, so it may be beneficial for them to stop driving.

When reaction time slows down

Physical and mental changes can lead to a slower reaction time. For example, severe arthritis can cause joint stiffness that makes it difficult for a person to turn the steering wheel. There are plenty of other diseases that can affect a senior's ability to react to the road, such as Parkinson's disease, vision problems, hearing loss, Alzheimer's disease and a stroke. It can be beneficial for anyone suffering from one of these illnesses to talk with his or her doctor before getting back on the road.

When confusion becomes regular

A person's mental status can change as they age. This can lead to increased confusion while on the road. Certain instances, like the following, can indicate it is time to stop driving:

  • Getting lost in familiar territory regularly.
  • Misreading traffic signals, such as stopping at green lights or driving through a stop sign.
  • Losing focus on the road because of minor distractions, such as the radio or people outside of the car.

A person, no matter his or her age, should consider turning in his or her car keys if confusion becomes a regular part of driving. Some older people may try to set restrictions before completely giving up their driver's license. For example, only driving in the day, staying in familiar locations, limiting distractions and keeping off highways may help a person feel more comfortable driving and reduce his or her confusion while on the road.

When accident involvement increases

Confusion and slower reaction times can lead to an increase in car accidents for an individual. While some of these accidents may be straight forward fender benders, others may be close calls, door dings or traffic violations. Even an increase in these minor incidents could be a sign that it is time to give up driving.

Older Connecticut residents may not want to stop driving, but aging can lead to a decrease in physical and mental capabilities that make it a necessity for the safety of everyone on the road. No matter the age of the people involved, it may be beneficial to work with a knowledgeable attorney after a car collision takes place.