Every individual ages in different ways. For example, some individuals start to need glasses once they reach the age of retirement, even though their vision has been perfect for their entire lives before this point. Other individuals maintain perfect eyesight well into their 90s. Because there is no master formula for aging, it is inappropriate to treat all elderly drivers as either capable or disadvantaged in the same ways.
Instead, it is important for all elderly drivers to seek regular medical checkups in which their capacities for safe driving are assessed. Some individuals will pass these checkups with flying colors for the remainder of their lives. Others could be advised to hang up their keys even before they are set to retire. Still others will be advised to keep an eye on certain signs of aging as they develop and asked to hang up their keys whenever it becomes clear that they cannot drive safely.
Many individuals are understandably concerned about the prevalence of auto accidents caused by elderly Americans. Such concerns are valid and should be appropriately addressed. However, it is important to address concerns about elderly drivers in the same ways that one should address concerns related to teen drivers – with respect.
Driving is considered to be a manifestation of autonomy in American culture. Questioning anyone’s ability to drive safely should be done with respect and with consideration for that individual’s unique circumstances. In the case of elderly drivers, understanding that each person ages differently is key to treating the issue of safety within this particular population with the respect it deserves.
Source: The Herald Bulletin, “Senior checkups can include driver safety,” Oct. 2, 2014