By Master Trooper Gary Cutler
Driving is a feeling of freedom you get when you’re able to just travel wherever you wish. But, there may come a point in time when either you or someone close to you must make the decision to put the keys away and find another way to commute.
Talking to an older person about their driving can be difficult and is often delayed until their driving is to a point of being dangerous. But if delayed too long, it can be a hesitation that can turn fatal.
I speak from personal experience when I lost my grandmother in a crash. The signs were there prior to the fatal crash, but we failed to see them as a serious enough problem and hesitated in having her stop driving. It started with a few scratches here and there on the car, and pulling into the garage a little too far. Perhaps, if we had acted upon those signs we may have had her around longer.
Years later when another driving situation approached my family, we didn’t hesitate to take action. My father began to show signs of having trouble driving due to early-onset dementia and we took steps to keep him from driving and possibly hurting himself or someone else. A problem you may face is the older driver believing they are driving fine, when in fact you are seeing dangerous problems. I won’t tell you it was easy to have the conversation. My father was upset with us for a while, but I would do it again to make sure it keeps everyone safe.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2018, 19% of all fatal crashes were caused by drivers 65 years and older. Now this doesn’t mean just because you turn 65 you should have your driver’s license taken from you. Far from it, it just means it’s time to start being aware of any changes. For a start, keep track of eyesight, physical fitness, and reflexes.
Saguache Today columnist Trooper Gary Cutler is the Public Information Officer for the Colorado State Patrol. A Public Information Officer is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer media questions.