How to Know When to Stop Driving: AAA Talk

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from: Longevity Explorers | Providence

Discussion Summary

How to Know When to Stop Driving, John Paul, guest speaker from AAA Northeast by Longevity Explorers: Recent @ Providence

“People outlive their driving ability by eight to ten years,” said John Paul, the guest speaker from AAA Northeast.  Without alternatives, giving up driving can increase isolation, so AAA’s goal is to help drivers to continue to drive as long as they can do so safely.  Paul made a number of suggestions to help us continue to be safe drivers as we age.  You can “cheat your reaction time” by increasing the distance between your car and the next one to at least 3 seconds of following distance.  You can be prepared to stop by putting your foot close to or hovering over the brake pedal.  You can be sure that your headlights are working at their best by having the lenses cleaned and getting brighter lights.  

Medications—including non-prescription drugs and herbal remedies—can also affect one’s abilities on the road.  Paul suggested the website as a useful resource.  One can enter all the medications and remedies that one takes and learn whether there may be a drug interaction and/or an effect on driving that needs to be discussed with your physician.

Aging adults are also most likely to wear seatbelts, and many are aware of their need to change some of their driving habits.  Some stop driving at night or on high speed highways or limit their time on the road to those hours when traffic is lightest.  Paul distributed a booklet by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that includes a self-rating tool and facts and suggestions for safe driving. offers a number of tips about driving safely as an older adult.  Courses supported by AARP and AAA in a group or on-line can also help the older driver sharpen skills and awareness.  It is also possible to have a driving and “car fit” evaluation from an occupational therapist and driving instructor.  Such evaluation programs, including vehicle modification for special needs, are typically provided through hospitals.  They are rare and expensive.

As one ages, one needs to plan ahead knowing that at some time we may well have to stop driving.  The good news is that more alternatives exist to owning a car than ever before.  Some people who have totaled the cost of car ownership—including taxes, insurance, gasoline, servicing, and the cost of the car itself—have found that they save money by using public transportation and ride-sharing services.  Useful instructions about how to use Lyft and Uber are on the website (How to Use Uber).  The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has developed an app for smart phones that can be downloaded to locate bus routes, buy tickets, and find other services.



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