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Alabama Families Need To Take Action To Protect Elderly Drivers, Tuscaloosa Accident Attorneys Say

Nov 4, 2014 - Car Accidents by

As medical science continues to advance, people are living longer, more active lives. In 2010, the Social Security Administration Period Life Table, predicted life expectancy for males and females at 76.1 and 80.94 years, respectively. In fact, many people are significantly exceeding those expectations. Regrettably, tables cannot predict when seniors need to stop driving since every person is unique. Our Tuscaloosa accident attorneys have seen too many lives cut short by elderly drivers. Family members need to know how and when to take the car keys away.

A recent Alabama accident illustrates how a lack of focus or perhaps reduced vision can put seniors and others on the road at risk. According to an October 7 report by Alabama Media Group, a 78-year old man was fatally injured when he pulled out of his retirement community into the path of a school bus. The good news is that no children were on the bus at the time of the collision, but the man’s family lost a valuable member who clearly had good years ahead of him.

A Progressive Approach is Essential in Helping Seniors Make the Right Decision

Keep in mind that seniors are traditionally the heads of families. Many do not take kindly to edicts from their children. So, rather than taking the keys away suddenly, our Tuscaloosa accident attorneys recommend taking it one step at a time, as follows:

  • Check for medical issues: Anyone, young or old, can experience medical concerns that temporarily affect their driving abilities. Perhaps the Alabama man had vision changes that could be corrected with new glasses. Before taking the keys away, family members should take their elders for a complete check-up, advising the doctor of any close calls in the car.
  • Start with small restrictions: At the first indication of issues, families should suggest reasonable cutbacks. For example, a driver who loses the ability to see clearly at night might agree to drive during daylight hours only.
  • Discuss, rather than blame: Family members may witness declining driving abilities. Or, they may be aware of a recent traffic citation. These situations provide opportunities to talk with seniors about the challenges of driving. Keep in mind that it is better to gain seniors’ perspectives, rather than making outright challenges on their ability to drive safely.
  • Offer alternatives: Make sure that a loss of the keys does not mean a loss of independence. Rather than offering to run errands or do the weekly shopping, make sure someone is available for chauffer service.
  • Be prepared to table the discussion for now: It is perfectly natural to meet a great deal of resistance when initiating these types of conversations. Families should not completely drop this important discussion, but they may need to wait a bit or find different ways to approach the topic.

Our Tuscaloosa accident attorneys want everyone to enjoy the freedom provided by the Alabama roadways — as long as every person is safe. To help ensure that their elders have the opportunity to enjoy their full life spans, family members need to keep track of the driving abilities of their elderly loved ones. Together, all members of the family can work to develop a workable plan.

Additional Resources:

How to Talk to Elderly Adults About Giving up the Keys, by Constance Matthiessen, Caring.Com Senior Editor

When Should Seniors Hang Up The Car Keys? October 6, 2012,  Patti Neighmond, National Public Radio

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