Kids having the conversation with their senior parents about stopping driving

Author: WFMZ via CBS Newspath
Published: Updated:
Jessie Jacobson / CC BY-SA 2.0

By 2025, drivers ages 65 and older will represent 25 percent of the driving population. There are already 40 million licensed older drivers, but science shows physical and cognitive decline at older ages can have big impact on driving ability.

According to the CDC, on average 19 older adults are killed and 712 are injured in crashes every day. So when should an older adult stop driving and who should make this happen?

Phyllis Bouck, 98, started driving in 1932.

Bouck says, “I know the rules. I don’t get on the highway and go slowly.”

But 93-year-old Patricia Gamler doesn’t drive anymore.

Gamler explained, “It was not my choice. A young lady slammed her car into mine and demolished my car and put me in the hospital.”

Now, her daughter Melissa chauffeurs her around.

Jane Martin is 97 years old. No car keys for her. She uses Uber or a shuttle.

“I didn’t decide not to drive. I never did. Dr. Bernstein talked me out of it,” Martin said.

David Bernstein, MD and author of Senior Driving Dilemma: Lifesaving Strategies, doesn’t take any detours when delving into this discussion.

Dr. Bernstein stated, “Oh it’s very serious I mean I can’t emphasize enough the angst that happens when there’s a crisis.”

As much as you may dread it, Dr. Bernstein says families are critical in the “hang up the keys” debate.

Dr. Bernstein said, “Families and children would rather talk about funeral plans and selling a house before they would talk about taking away the keys from their adult drivers.”

Dr. Bernstein said families should follow these guidelines when dealing with older drivers: agree on gradual restrictions, follow behind when they do drive to confirm your suspicions, and when all else fails, anonymously report hazardous driving to the DMV.

Dr. Bernstein said, “Do whatever it takes, beg, borrow and steal. Be deceptive. Disable the car, send it to service.”

Phyllis told us she plans to stop driving before 2020, and one of the ladies we spoke with pointed out she now saves $2,400 a year on car insurance since she stopped driving.

Also, the proportion of motor vehicle crashes that have involved drivers 65 and up has more than doubled from 2004 to 2015.

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