Nine in 10 boomer children of senior drivers think it is important to have driving conversations with their aging parents, but few are taking action - thus, not addressing potential safety risks on the roads. Earlier and more frequent conversations about senior driving are essential. If people take away one lesson from this study, it is to have this conversation with your loved ones – and have it soon.
The survey of more than 1,000 boomer children of senior drivers indicates that they are more concerned about their aging parents' driving (59 percent) than they are about family members driving under the influence (43 percent).
Boomer children cite the following as top concerns associated with their senior parents' driving:
- Poor eyesight: 47 percent
- Drives too slow: 38 percent
- Poor hearing: 30 percent
- Drives distracted: 25 percent
- 46 percent think their parents will be angry or hurt
- 31 percent think their parents will say it is too hard to find other modes of transportation
- 22 percent think their parents will be more determined to keep driving
Boomers' concerns about senior driving are valid, with 17 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities happening to older individuals, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2011, 5,401 people aged 65 and older were killed and 185,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
Aging is an inevitable occurrence that has several implications. It's important that we recognize that age can bring changes that impact one's driving abilities. Each individual situation is unique, which is why we encourage boomer children to talk openly with their parents about driving.
Here are some tips for talking to senior loved ones about driving:
- Take a ride with your parents and observe their driving. Watch their awareness of their driving environment. Do they have slow reaction times? Are there dents, close calls, tickets or warnings?
- Discuss the topic early and have realistic expectations, as it is likely that the matter will not be resolved with the first discussion.
- Look into alternate transportation solutions and be prepared to discuss options.