Drop the Keys: 5 Signs its time for a Senior to Stop Driving

Mar 30, 2016

Drop the Keys: 5 Signs its time for a Senior to Stop Driving

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Let’s face it, Grandpa Joe always cracks the funniest one-liners during family dinners, while Betty White practically serves as everyone’s spirit animal, killin’ the game at ninety-three years young. In some cases, elderly folks are doing life way better than you. Out in Warsaw, for instance, there are senior citizens legitimately raving to a 76-year-old DJ! Simply put, elderly folks, we love you—never change.

Although our love and appreciation for our family elders are strong, the one stigma that hits the heartstrings is license revocation for elderly drivers. Whether it’s Grandpa Joe simply driving to the liquor store for his favorite scotch, or Grandma Jane trying to get to bingo on time, there are elderly driving risks that have to be addressed. If these senior driver risks are addressed properly, a life may, in fact, be saved.

The stubbornness of elderly drivers is a given, meaning they still believe that they are capable of driving. In some cases, some elders are capable of driving, however, most elders are not. These conversations are easier to have when you know to address the situation at the right time.

Does My Senior Need to Put Down the Keys?

Worry no more, folks; we have five valuable identifiers below. These signs can truly identify a senior's driving capability.

Car Condition

Identifying the condition of your elder’s vehicle may show signs of bad driving. If there are dents or scrapes on the car, recognize these incidents and determine if they become more consistent as time goes on.

Sense of Awareness

A loss in an elder’s thought processes, depending on the frequency (according to you and or their doctor) can affect their thinking while behind the wheel, especially if getting lost in familiar locations becomes more frequent. Memory loss will cause elderly members to forget where they are and could cause fender benders.

Space Identification

A senior driver’s misjudgments in traffic intersections or exit ramps are both red flags for accidents. If an elder responds slowly to unexpected situations, confusing the gas and brake pedals for instance, or a number of other incorrect responses, then this is something to take into consideration when determining if it is time to take away the keys.


If an elder easily becomes confused or finds it difficult to concentrate while driving, then it may be time to take away the keys.

Traffic Violations

Receiving multiple traffic tickets and or warnings from local law enforcement also shows a trend that very well may lead to a decrease in driving capability.

Putting it Together

These signs show a definitive lack of mobility trust behind the wheel. We are taught to respect our elders, no matter the circumstance. Yes, we are technically taking away their freedom and independence–but at the end of the day, their driving mistake could be the end of their own life or someone else’s. Once you determine some of these indicators, have a discussion with the family doctor or your elder and discuss some options or your findings.

These five indicators are signs that you need to have a discussion about locking the car and dropping the keys for good. In the meantime, praise Grandpa Joe and Grandma Jane and remember that if it weren’t for them–you wouldn’t be carrying on their rocking legacies. So do them a favor, conduct the research, be kind and take a hint.

Find out the determinants of license revocation for elderly drivers in your state by visiting your state DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for more information.

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