How to have 'the talk' with older drivers

Matt Schmitz provides tips on how to have "the talk" with older drivers to keep them safe on the road.

Unless your name happens to be Benjamin Button, nobody’s getting younger.

And the day will come when every one of us fortunate enough to reach our twilight years will face the humbling decision to hand over our keys and give up driving for good.

So if you believe in karma, when your parents or loved ones reach the age when it’s time to have “the talk,” you’re going to want to treat them with empathy and dignity.

Apart from diminishing vision, hearing and motor skills, elderly drivers run an increased risk of dying in a crash due to frailty and reduced ability to endure trauma.

So getting out from behind the wheel at the right time makes the roads safer for both the older driver and fellow motorists.

Because of the so-called Silver Tsunami of Baby Boomers reaching a certain age, by 2025, folks age 65 or older are projected to comprise a quarter of all drivers on the road.

So there’s no time like the present for older drivers to start thinking about the inevitable — and for their families to start practicing their speech.

Here are some pro tips from the experts…

• Before broaching the subject with the older driver, spend some time in the car with them to assess their driving abilities. Check the car for dings and scratches to determine whether they’ve had an accident.
• Choose a trusted family member or friend to lead the discussion.
• Set a non-threatening tone, remaining sensitive and respectful — remember, you’re gonna get there one day, too.
• Explore technology that might help safely extend their days in the driver’s seat, such as backup cameras, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

The most important thing is to agree on a plan for reducing and, eventually, eliminating driving — before you need it. That way, when the time does come to park it in perpetuity, it’ll be as easy as tossing your keys to the valet — and you won’t even have to tip.
 

© 2017 Cars.com


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