Older Drivers: The Car Key Decision
As the number of older drivers increases as the population ages, the question arises more often: When should the car keys be taken away to ensure the safety of older drivers -- and others on the road?
When It's Time to Quit continued...
"We were concerned that patients with potentially blinding
diseases would not seek the medical care they might need to halt progression of
vision loss once they learned their physician was obligated to turn them in to
the DMV," says Craig H. Kliger, MD, a representative of the ophthalmology
academy to the AMA. The AMA eventually adopted language that made it
"ethically acceptable and desirable" to report an impaired driver, but
not mandatory -- except where required by law.
But if the DMV is not involved, or the driver's doctor is
unsuccessful in convincing the patient, more creative solutions are needed.
Wexler recalls a man in his 80s suffering from dementia who refused to stop
driving. Finally, the family asked a distant relative who was a police officer
to come to the house and tell the man that his insurance had lapsed and his car
was going to be removed. The man agreed to stop driving and instead of being
angry with his family, called his son to complain about what the police had
done. "If the person respects authority, this can work," says
Mr C is finally off the road, too. His son came to visit and
told his father he couldn't drive any longer. Oddly, Mr. C seemed relieved,
says Gauthier, the retirement community's assistant manager. "He says,
'Well, my doctor kind of said I shouldn't be driving. ... ' " And he had
been thinking about giving his car to his grandson, anyway.