AAA: Families Should Talk about 'Driving Retirement'

posted by Alan McBride - 

AAA says most older drivers are not having that discussion about what to do when faced with the day they'll have to turn over the car keys.

According to a recent study conducted by the auto club group, nearly 83 percent of older drivers report never speaking to a family member or physician about their safe driving ability.

Of the small percentage of families who do have the conversation, AAA reports 15 percent do so after a crash or traffic infraction has occurred.

AAA says in 2016, more than 200,000 drivers ages 65 and older were injured in a traffic crash and more than 3,500 were killed. 

With seniors outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, AAA says families should not wait to talk about safety. T

he outfit is urging seniors to begin planning for what it calls "driving retirement" at the same time they begin planning for retirement from work.

AAA recommends that families start talking with older adults about safe driving early and avoid waiting until there are "red flags" like crashes, scrapes on the car, new medical diagnoses, or worsening health conditions. 

Officials say families should be positive, be supportive and focus on ways to help keep the seniors safe when behind the wheel, including other forms of transportation available to older drivers.

Focus on the facts. Stick to information you know, like a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. 

And the auto club says don't jump to general conclusions about a driver's ability based on age alone.

Sometimes, all a senior driver may need is new prescription glasses.

AAA notes that changes in ability with age will vary from person to person.

AAA adds that it is just as important that families have a plan to help keep the older driver on the road for as long as safely possible. 

Past research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that older adults who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility as those who remain behind the wheel.

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