How To Tell If Your Parents’ Driving Days Are Finished

How To Tell If Your Parents’ Driving Days Are Finished

While older people and senior citizens in Australia are still well capable of driving safely on Australian roads, that’s not always the case with every aging individual.

As people age, naturally their physical abilities, reflexes and mental faculties can suffer deterioration. Therefore, it’s vital that senior citizens remain aware of their current physical condition, abilities and their capacity to drive safely.

If you have parents that are in the senior citizen category, then you’ll want to monitor their capacity to drive to some degree. Perhaps you’ve recently been driving with your mother or father and felt unsafe while in the car with your parent in control.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some key things to be aware of so you can determine whether your aging parents are still competent enough to drive, or whether their driving days are over.

Have You Noticed Minor Damage To Their Car?

If every time you visit your parents’ house you notice new scratches and dents on their car, this is an indicator that their ability to drive in general is starting to suffer. While these scrapes and dents may not be major incidents, they could prove to be the precursor to an accident.

Regular scratches and dents will be the result of misjudgment when parking the car, negotiating tight spaces, an inability to judge distances accurately and other causes.

If one or both of your parents are regularly bumping their car into things, it might be time for them to cease driving before something more serious happens.

Regular Traffic Infringements

Have your parents been receiving traffic infringement notices on a somewhat regular basis? If so, what are the infringements for? Do they indicate a reduced capacity to drive?

Speeding is the most common of all traffic infringements, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate that someone’s physical and mental faculties are diminishing. However, parking in an illegal manner due to a lack of judgement to park the car correctly, hazardous driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and a host of other misdemeanors could indicate a parent is nearing the end of their driving career.

A Parent Has Caused An Accident

Anyone of any age can make a mistake and cause a solo or multi-vehicle car accident. It’s not necessarily a sign of aging. If your father or mother is involved in an accident and the police deem it to be their fault, then it’s time to evaluate what the mistake was that led to the accident and whether it’s an indicator that they can no longer drive in a safe and trusted manner.

A medical assessment by a health professional may be required to determine this, or even have the parent go through a practical driving test to assess their current skills and abilities.

If a senior parent is involved in a series of car accidents, then it’s definitely the time to reassess their driving future before someone gets seriously hurt.

Does Your Parent Abuse Alcohol, Medication Or Illicit Substances?

It doesn’t matter whether a parent is young or old. Everyone can be susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse at any stage of life. Drug abuse doesn’t just mean illegal drugs either, as many prescription medications can impair someone’s ability to be safe on Australian roads.

As the son or daughter of a senior parent, part of the responsibility will fall upon your shoulders to monitor the behaviour of your parents and help to ensure they are not getting behind the wheel of a car when they’ve been drinking, indulging in illicit drugs or taking medication that prohibits driving or operating machinery.

It’s for their own safety and the safety of others.

Have You Noticed Your Mother Or Father Is Easily Distracted?

The ability to be easily distracted will be evident in just about all aspects of everyday life. It doesn’t only apply when someone is behind the steering wheel of a vehicle.

If you’ve noticed your father or mother becoming increasingly more distracted and their attention easily drawn to something else, chances are this inability to concentrate will become an issue when they’re out on the roads as well.

Is Their Driving Well Below Par?

Go for a drive with your parents and see what their current driving is like. This is one of the easiest and most obvious ways to determine whether they still possess the necessary skills to drive safely, or whether it’s time for them to retire.

Look out for the following:

  • Is the driver weaving all over the road?
  • Are they easily distracted and lose concentration?
  • Do they forget fundamentals such as using indicators?
  • Are they driving perilously close to stationary objects?
  • Is their road positioning and cornering all askew?
  • Is the parent not keeping their eyes on the road?
  • Are they constantly speeding, or speeding up and slowing down in an irregular manner?
  • Do you feel unsafe while driving with them?

The above are all telltale signs that your parent may be struggling to drive and it might be time you had a conversation with them about it.

Slow Reaction Times Are a Serious Issue

One characteristic that can make for a safe driver and to help avoid accidents is a fast reaction time. This naturally diminishes a little with age, but if one or both of your parents are becoming very slow to react to things, this can be a real danger when out on the road.

You’ll be able to monitor their responses and reactions in many aspects of everyday life, not just driving, so if you see your parents struggling with their reactions and reflexes, it might be time for them to undergo a physical assessment with their doctor to help determine their driving future.

In Conclusion

There has to come a time in every parent’s life where they will need to retire from driving, and often it’s up to the due diligence of the children to help determine when that time has arrived.


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