Keeping Older Drivers Safe

With the holidays fast approaching, the American Association of Retired Persons has some suggestions on keeping elderly parents and grandparents safe in the rush of holiday traffic. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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The holidays are the worst time of the year for travel. Millions of people are on the roads heading for family gatherings. Many are up in years and their driving skills just aren't as sharp as they once were. AARP's older driver safety expert Elinor Ginzler says the holidays create perfect opportunities for children to talk with their parents about curtailing their driving.

"It could be that you have a family member who is older, and you have some concerns that maybe they shouldn't be driving, maybe not driving in the same ways that they have driven before, and maybe not driving at all if the situation warrants it."

Ginzler says children worried about mom or dad's driving abilities should take charge of the situation. Instead of having them drive to your house, take Thanksgiving dinner to their house instead, or make other driving arrangements for them.

"A lot of the times these are quite a large variety of family members gathering together, and so it could be that Aunt Sue does a short detour maybe, to pick up grandma and grandpa to bring them over to where the meal is being served on that holiday, and that way also relieving them of the requirement to be in that car."

The fast pace of travel on modern roads and freeways demand skills most older people just don't have anymore, whether they're ready to admit it or not, and winter weather just makes it harder. Persuading them to let someone else do the driving may be the hardest thing you ever do, but Ginzler says at some point it must be done, and it can be done with the right approach.

"And we actually suggest at AARP that you want to come at this from the approach of safety. That's going to be your entre', saying I want you to stay safe and I want the people around you to be safe and that's why I want to have this conversation."

To keep their parents from feeling isolated, Ginzler says children should be ready to step up and drive them to where they need to go, or make other transportation arrangements for them. She says this is true year round, not just during the holidays. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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