Mature woman in driver's seat of car

When Should I Stop Driving?

Most of us will have to ask this question someday. If driving were only about getting from point A to point B, it might be an easy one to answer, but driving provides convenience, security, and personal freedom. For many of us the automobile represents adventure, romance, and independence; it can also be a lifelong passion imbued with myth and memories. Earning your license is a rite of passage, filled with joy and promise, while letting go of the car keys can confront us with our own mortality. On a more practical level, the loss of driving privileges creates a serious inconvenience, even isolation, in areas where public transportation is inadequate.

Given all this, it is not hard to understand why sometimes we are reluctant to relinquish our cars. Unfortunately, there is no ‘pop-up’ button (yet!) to let us know when our driving days are over. Most states now have laws with specific licensing requirements for older drivers; nevertheless, we still may have to rely on our own judgement when making this decision. Be on the alert for the following signs that it is time to get out from behind the wheel:

  • Trouble seeing traffic signs, signals or road markers
  • Noticeably slower reaction times
  • Problems switching from the gas to the brake pedal, or confusing the two
  • Difficulty steering, braking or parking
  • Trouble backing into, or out of, your driveway
  • Discovering dents or scrapes from your car on your fencing, mailbox or garage doors
  • Concentration and memory problems, especially losing your bearings on your own turf
  • Finding that just the thought of driving brings on anxiety
  • Frequently feeling over-stressed on busy streets, intersections or out on the highway
  • Drivers honking or yelling (or worse!) due to your driving
  • Frequent warnings or traffic citations
  • Near-misses, fender-benders or accidents
  • Family members or friends expressing serious concern about your driving or refusing to ride with you or allow their children to do so

If any of these red flags appear, ask yourself if it is time to stop driving. If the answer is ‘yes,’ then sell your car, pass it on to someone or donate it to a worthy charity, and use the alternative forms of transportation available in your area. While it may be tough to give up motoring, the safety of our loved ones and the larger community should always come first.


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