Time to ‘retire’

from driving?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Most seniors don’t want to give up the keys to their car. Some realize the safety concerns and willingly stop driving. But addressing safety concerns with seniors can be a rocky road fraught with stress. After all, driving represents freedom and access to friends and activities, so reluctance to give up driving is natural. However, we all must do our part to keep Virginia roads as safe as possible.

Let’s give seniors the credit they deserve: Senior drivers are generally safe drivers, killing fewer motorists/pedestrians than any other age group. Seniors often self-regulate by eliminating nighttime or inclement weather driving, avoiding interstates and staying closer to home.

The challenge for senior drivers is they are living about 10 years beyond their ability to drive safely. A positive outlook, adequate planning and the knowledge of alternative mobility options, however, will make the road to retiring the car much smoother. Ride sharing companies, future autonomous vehicles and community shuttles/volunteer groups can allow seniors to continue to enjoy their freedom.

Adding transportation to the retirement planning process results in sound decisions and should include regular medical checkups, driving assessments, choosing a safer car, utilizing options like adjustable pedals to relieve driver fatigue and self-skill rating tools.

While older drivers are among the safest, crash likelihood increases with age, even when miles driven are reduced. With the exception of teenagers, older Americans have the highest crash death rate per mile driven because they are more fragile. Therefore, giving up the keys, when needed, is critical.

When that time comes, successful transitions can be made when loved ones work together, are prepared and approach conversations in a nonthreatening manner. Seniors who understand mobility options will likely be more willing to accept the change.

Let’s embrace our seniors by ensuring their safety while offering options to keep them mobile.

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Martha Meade,

AAA Mid-Atlantic.Richmond.

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