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As you age, it’s normal for your confidence on the road and in your driving ability to change. When do you know it’s time to hang up your keys? From hearing loss to physical infirmity, there are many signs that signal it’s time to look at other transportation options. As you get older, it is important to take the time to assess your driving ability and have an honest conversation with yourself about your capability. Many seniors view giving up driving as an end to their independence, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Seeking other transportation can keep you safe and can even be a welcome change in your social life. While ultimately it is up to you, here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision:

Sight and Hearing

With time, it is inevitable that your sight and hearing will begin to decline. According to the CDC, 19% of seniors over 70 struggle with a sight impairment—meaning their sight cannot be improved with glasses, and over one-third are hearing impaired. Since sight and hearing are two of the most important senses to driving safely, you can’t make a compromise when you begin to lose them. If you can’t see road signs or hear honking horns, then your safety is in jeopardy and it’s likely time to give up driving.

Mobility

Mobility is an essential element to safe driving. For example, if you suffer from arthritis, it may be difficult to move your foot from the gas to the break; this can slow down your reaction time and, therefore, endanger you and others. It is important to be aware of your limitations and to know when a physical disability is a hindrance to your driving.

Asking Questions

Finally, the National Institute on Aging suggests asking yourself these questions to determine if driving is safe:

  • Do other drivers often honk at me?
  • Have I had some accidents, even if they were only “fender benders”?
  • Do I get lost, even on roads I know?
  • Do cars or people walking seem to appear out of nowhere?
  • Do I get distracted while driving?
  • Have family, friends, or my doctor said they’re worried about my driving?
  • Am I driving less these days because I’m not as sure about my driving as I used to be?
  • Do I have trouble staying in my lane?
  • Do I have trouble moving my foot between the gas and the brake pedals, or do I sometimes confuse the two?
  • Have I been pulled over by a police officer about my driving?

There is no “correct” age or time to give up driving. This decision is a personal one and should be discussed with your family and friends. Giving up driving doesn’t have to limit your independence. In fact, you may find that you enjoy being the passenger and letting someone else worry about the rules of the road for a change.