Sign In  |  Register  |  About Burlingame  |  Contact Us

Burlingame, CA
September 01, 2020 10:18am
7-Day Forecast | Traffic
  • Search Hotels in Burlingame

  • CHECK-IN:
  • CHECK-OUT:
  • ROOMS:

Why some seniors should sign ‘driving contracts’ and agree to hang up their car keys

Some aging drivers are signing contracts to help determine when their time behind the wheel should come to an end. Driving experts weigh in on these “advance directives."

Some aging drivers are signing contracts to help determine when their time behind the wheel should come to an end. 

These "advance directives" are to help protect drivers’ safety and facilitate what can often be tough decisions for families.

Lewis Morgenstern, 61, a professor of neurology, neurosurgery and emergency medicine at the University of Michigan, plans to sign such an agreement when he turns 65, as reported by KFF Health News.

WHEN SHOULD OLDER DRIVERS HAVE TO STOP DRIVING?

Morgenstern will stop driving whenever his children decide it’s time, according to the directive.

"I recognize that I might not be able to make the best decision about driving at a certain point, and I want to make it clear that I trust my children to take over that responsibility," Morgenstern told KFF Health News. 

Morgenstern was also the co-author of a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in Nov. 2023. It measured the driving behaviors of 635 individuals with cognitive impairment.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that 61% of older adults with cognitive impairment were still operating a vehicle — even though 36% of their caregivers were concerned about their driving ability.

"There is undoubtedly a group of people who are driving and shouldn’t be because they’re a risk to themselves and to others," Morgenstern said.

Data shows that risks are on the rise. As of 2021, nearly 50 million people age 65 and older had driver's licenses, a 38% uptick from 2012, according to the American Automobile Association.

Almost 19 million of those drivers were 75 or older. 

Between 2012 and 2021, motor vehicle deaths involving drivers age 65 and older increased by 34%. The number of seniors injured in vehicle crashes that year exceeded 266,000 in 2021, KFF Health News reported.

Some of the biggest risks exist among older drivers who develop medical conditions that interfere with their driving ability, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma and arthritis.

ONE IN SIX TEENS ADMITS TO DROWSY DRIVING, SURVEY FINDS: IT'S 'IMPAIRED DRIVING, UNEQUIVOCALLY'

"Among the bigger safety concerns are fender benders that they do not remember," Tina Paff, president of Bick's Driving School of Western Hills in Ohio, told Fox News Digital.

"Sure, it could be a mailbox or a pole, but sometimes it is a car or a pedestrian."

Driving at night can also be dangerous, she noted, as the visual processing speed in older drivers is decreased. 

Getting lost while driving is another common occurrence among senior drivers, said Paff, who heads up the Bick's Driver Rehabilitation Program. It evaluates older adults’ driving skills to determine whether or not those drivers should "retire" from operating vehicles.

Nigel Tunnacliffe, co-founder and CEO of Coastline Academy, a national driving school headquartered in California, pointed out some of the biggest dangers associated with older drivers.

11 WINTER CAR ESSENTIALS YOU CAN FIND ON AMAZON THAT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE

Those include hearing loss, difficulty taking in their full surroundings, greater risk of injury in the event of an accident, the use of older car models, and a lack of experience behind the wheel, which is often a factor when an older adult loses a spouse and is suddenly the sole driver, he noted.

There is "no single, universal age" at which people should stop driving, Tunnacliffe told Fox News Digital.

"It’s often not something that we can tell in advance. We cannot say with certainty that, for example, as soon as someone hits the age of 75, they should automatically and voluntarily step away from driving."

He added, "It’s perfectly plausible — and common — that they will remain competent and effective drivers at that age."

While Tunnacliffe acknowledged that age-related effects like vision loss, hearing loss and decreased mobility can make driving more dangerous, not everyone experiences these limitations at the same age, if at all. 

Rather than setting an arbitrary date beforehand, Tunnacliffe recommends that families make the decision based on an "actual, objective evaluation" of how the individual is faring behind the wheel. 

"For instance, having older adults take refresher courses can not only help make the decision of when to stop driving clearer, but it can also improve their driving skills more generally, and the assessments from those lessons can be shared with family members to help make the end-of-driving decision," he told Fox News Digital. 

There are various types of advance driving directives.

"One asks a person to name a family member or friend who will talk to them about whether it’s safe to continue driving," noted KFF Health News. 

This type is not legally binding.

CHILD CAR SEAT SAFETY: EXPERT SHARES DOS AND DON’TS TO PROTECT KIDS FROM ACCIDENT INJURIES

With another type of contract, family members agree to help the person continue driving in a safe way or help the individual find an alternate means of transportation.

The Alzheimer’s Association has published a non-binding directive that encourages people with dementia to designate someone to flag any driving-related concerns as the disease progresses.

Part of the agreement states the following: "I understand that I may forget that I cannot drive anymore and may try to continue driving. If this happens, please know that I support all actions taken, including removing or disabling my car, to help ensure my safety and the safety of others."

Paff said she thinks advance directives are "a great idea," although she has some concerns that people with memory disorders won’t remember signing it.

"It would provide proof, however, for the families dealing with a disgruntled adult driver," she said.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER

These types of contracts could prove helpful if the driver was of sound mind when signing it, said Paff — but warned that in some cases, the memory-impaired parent may think it was "made up" or that "everyone is against me." These are objections that she commonly hears, she said.

To minimize conflict and uncertainty, Paff recommends getting a formal evaluation from a third-party driver rehabilitation specialist to "take the family out of the mix."

Tunnacliffe also recommends enrolling senior drivers in annual driving lessons, as well as having open and honest conversations about their cognitive and physical abilities.

"The contract model does not challenge misleading assumptions and biases against older drivers, and it is important that we adopt a more realistic approach that respects both their safety and their autonomy," he said.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

Data & News supplied by www.cloudquote.io
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.
 
 
Copyright © 2010-2020 Burlingame.com & California Media Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.