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When Is It Time to Take the Keys Away From an Older California Driver?

As San Diego personal injury attorneys, we have seen firsthand the rise in accidents involving older drivers. However, deciding when to take the keys away from an older driver can be a difficult task.

While driving is a way for older adults to maintain their independence, research shows that many skills required for safe driving — vision, reaction time, and neuromuscular control — decline as we get older. Therefore, the challenge is to identify potentially unsafe drivers while allowing those who drive safely to maintain their independence.

How to Tell If a Driver Is Unsafe

Often, the family of an older driver is in the best position to address safety concerns and take away the car keys, if necessary. Unfortunately, there is no clear rule for determining whether an older driver should be on the road.

As a guide, the American Academy of Neurology has identified several signs of decreased driving ability, which include: a crash in the past year to five years, a traffic citation in the past two to three years, or an aggressive or impulsive personality. Other conditions that can limit driving ability include glaucoma, angina, arthritis, respiratory illness, and neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

If you are concerned about an older driver, below are a few tips to help make the process a little less difficult:

  • Get the family together. When approaching an older driver, it is generally helpful to form a united front.
  • Check with a doctor. The family member’s personal physician might recommend talking to a specialist. Doctors can also help by telling someone to stop driving or by “prescribing” it.
  • Check your state laws. California law specifies that age alone is not grounds for reexamination of drivers; however, drivers who are 70 and older must provide proof of adequate vision at every license renewal. Online renewal is also not available for drivers over the age of 70.
  • Consult a driving rehabilitation expert. Sometimes it’s better to get a third-party opinion. There are certified professionals who can evaluate off-road tests of cognition, vision, and motor skills and make an on-road assessment.
  • Arrange for other transportation. If family members are not available, a social worker can often help.
  • Call in an attorney. A California personal injury lawyer can discuss the potential financial and legal consequences of a crash or injury.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a California car crash, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.