Seniors may be more willing to talk about limiting their driving than their adult children might think, according to a survey released recently by Liberty Mutual Insurance.
But most older drivers fear losing their independence when they consider the prospect of life without driving, and few actually broach the topic.
In the poll of 1,000 adults ages 75 and older, 84 percent said they were open to conservations about limiting or stopping their driving, but only 6 percent said they had ever spoken to anyone about their driving abilities.
"These are difficult conversations, but important to have early and often, because everyone ages differently," David Melton, Liberty Mutual's managing director of global safety, said in a press statement. "Too often, these discussions are avoided until warning signs appear or, worse, there is a crash. It's a step we all need to take to ensure the safety of our loved ones and the community."
Most seniors still drive regularly, with 41 percent driving every day and 38 percent driving several times a week, according to the survey.
This is despite physical limitations:
- Sixteen percent reported they tire easily or have slow reaction times.
- Thirteen percent reported difficulty seeing or hearing
- Nine percent reported getting lost or feeling confused while driving.
To compensate, 85 percent of seniors said they had avoided some type of driving condition or location, including driving after dark, during rush hour or in unfamiliar areas.
Although they say they would consider limiting or stopping their driving for safety reasons, most seniors are apprehensive about life without driving. Concerns include:
- Losing independence: 64 percent
- Becoming less active: 47 percent
- Difficulty finding alternative forms of transportation: 45 percent
- Feeling isolated: 45 percent.
"The right time to stop driving is a personal decision and will be different for everyone," Liberty Mutual said. "The first step is starting the conversation, and an essential part of that is a discussion about alternatives to driving."
Understanding the transportation alternatives can help ease the transition from driving to riding, a change that usually occurs gradually over time, the company said.