Why an Assessment
Think about the last time your driving skills were reviewed by a professional examiner. Was it 10 years ago? 20 years ago? More? When the need for an independent driving assessment is necessary it may be difficult to start the discussion. A driver’s license signifies more than the ability to drive a car; it is a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency. Understandably, driving is not a privilege that anyone wants to relinquish willingly. Still, safety must come first.
For Family Members
If you find yourself in the position of talking to an older friend or family member about their driving, remember the following:
Be respectful. For many older adults, driving is an integral part of independence. Don’t be intimidated or back down if you have a true concern.
Give specific examples. It’s easier to tune out generalizations like “You just can’t drive safely anymore.” Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You braked suddenly at stop signs three times the last time we drove.”
Find strength in numbers. If more than one family member or close friend has noticed, it’s less likely to be taken as nagging. A loved one may also listen to a more impartial party, such as a doctor or driving specialist.
Understand the difficulty of a possible transition. Your loved one may experience a profound sense of loss at the thought of giving up driving. Don’t dismiss their feelings but listen to their concerns and discuss solutions.
For the Older Adult
If you or others are questioning your driving skills, talk to a family member or your doctor. Here are some tips to help:
Personal Evaluation: Ask yourself if you have recently been in an unsafe driving situation. Were your reflexes good? How early did you notice the potential concern? Were you in the best position to avoid the situation? If you answer these questions truthfully you can give yourself a good head start.
Start the discussion. Your family members will appreciate you bringing up the topic before they do. It also allows you time to give thought to your concerns and your ideal solutions.
Schedule your evaluation: Take on the responsibility of scheduling your own driving skills evaluation. The results of your assessment will go a long way toward helping you make a decision about your future transportation needs.