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Hawkins: Talking about limiting or stopping driving

dfox • Updated Nov 4, 2015 at 10:38 PM

The “Baby Boomers” are growing up, and growing older. 

Most people want to continue driving for as long as they can do so safely. As Baby Boomers – and their parents – age, they may face the question of when an older driver should limit, or stop, driving.

AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives, has published a list of warning signs indicating when a person should begin to limit, or stop, driving:  

1. Almost crashing, with frequent “close calls.”

2. Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.

3. Getting lost, especially in familiar locations.

4. Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings.

5. Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving their foot from the gas to the brake pedal; confusing the two pedals.

6. Misjudging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance and exit ramps.

7. Experiencing road rage or causing other drivers to honk or complain.

8. Easily becoming distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving.

9. Having a hard time turning around to check the rear view while backing up or changing lanes.

10. Receiving multiple traffic tickets or “warnings” from law enforcement officers.

Q. What should I do if one or more of these warning signs is present?

It may be time for a driver improvement course, and/or it may be time to have a thoughtful discussion with the driver who is having problems.  

AARP has a three-module online seminar called “We Need to Talk” (go to aarp.org and search “we need to talk”). This program helps drivers and their loved ones to recognize warning signs. It also helps families initiate productive and caring conversations with older adults about driving safety. 

Next week: Older drivers and the state of Tennessee Driver Improvement office.

James B. (Jim) Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. Call 615-452-9200 to suggest topics or questions for future columns.

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