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When should we give up driving?

September 20, 2016 - Barb Barrett
The Senior Expo in Pennsdale last week was well attended, mostly first thing in the morning, I was told. While there the Lycoming County Highway Safety Department along with AARP and the Safe Communities Task Force were handing out a driving survey, preferably for seniors or anyone over the age of 65. While most of the attendees were indeed over that age, many drove themselves to the event. The survey is asking older citizens when they feel they should give up driving. Now that is a loaded question. My father who most recently turned 90 not only drove to his birthday party, but he also stopped at the Hillside Senior Assisted Living Center, and picked up two passengers. The Highway Safety Department is attempting to collect data on some demographics and reasons for or not for driving. For example, the survey asks if public transportation is limited in your area. And I will say that in "our neck of the woods" some of you are home bound. If you do drive, where do you drive to and are they short distances? How often do you drive? Do you drive alone? Do you feel safe or limit your time driving? I finally had to give up driving at dark, and now that the days are getting shorter, I limit my nightly engagements. Some of you are giving up driving for financial reasons, while others are giving up driving for medical reasons. Believe it or not, there are some benefits for not driving. Although she misses the independence, my mother who is 89 says she feels better having someone else drive her. Nevertheless, it can be quite challenging for many seniors to get around without a vehicle. According to the survey, some are bartering services to get friends and family to help drive them to places and appointments. My mom pays for my gas on many occasions, and this gives her a sense of worth. Dad will let me take him to his medical appointments, although he says he doesn't want to bother me. So if you have family members who can help, let them. There are many changes of driving laws taking place on the road such as turning right on red lights, and we mustn't forget to buckle up! If you're buckled up, there is a good chance you'll be conscious and able to get out of the vehicle in case of an accident. And they suggest to keep the grandkids in the back seat until they are 13 as they can be a distraction if sitting up front. Remember age isn't necessarily a factor for giving up driving, but safe driving skills are more important.


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