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It is no secret that older people sometimes see their reflexes and senses change as they age. So, how does one know when it might be time to ask Mom or Dad to give up the keys? It may be an unpleasant discussion, though it is a very important one for Connecticut families to have as older drivers sometimes cause or are involved in car accidents.

Those who have older drivers in their family need to keep in mind that the privilege of driving is often associated with greater independence. Giving up driving might seem like giving up one’s freedom. The person may not respond in a favorable manner when this subject is broached, so loved ones may find it helpful to offer suggestions as to how the driver can still make use of other transportation methods. Sticking with facts and generating a dialogue can help the person feel as though he or she is part of the decision.

In order to know whether this conversation needs to happen, there are several points to keep in mind. If the older driver has recently had an accident or traffic ticket, it may be an indicator that his or her abilities are declining. A change in health, such as a doctor’s advice to stop driving or a new medication or illness that could affect how the person drives may be enough incentive to stop. Also, observe how the driver behaves on the road — does he or she get lost in places they shouldn’t, or speed or slow down without cause? Any of these may “signal” that it’s time to “pull over.”

Whatever the decision ends up being, no one wants their elderly loved one to be injured in a crash. Here in Connecticut, it is possible that civil claims can be brought against drivers who cause car accidents that result in injury or fatality, whether an older driver is at fault or a victim. The hope is that the unthinkable never happens, but if it does, families deserve to know their options.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Talking with Older Drivers about Safe Driving”, , Sept. 28, 2014

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