Families play essential role with elderly drivers

Families play essential role with elderly drivers

August 19, 2013

Your recent editorial, “Looking the other way doesn’t do us a favor,” minimized the essential role families play in determining when it’s time for loved ones to stop driving.

The fact is we are all responsible for keeping up our skills and monitoring our loved ones’ driving – old and young, parents or young adult children. Although people should renew licenses regularly and in person, and any signs of driving impairment should be identified and evaluated, research has yet to find a driver test that can predict that someone is likely to have a crash.

That’s why AARP has joined with The Hartford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab to create “We Need to Talk,” a free online seminar (available at www.aarp.org/weneedtotalk) that addresses the tough subject of hanging up the keys. The program helps families learn the warning signs that may indicate someone should no longer be driving, and offers practical tips and advice for having this important conversation face to face. It also provides information on local alternative transportation resources to help keep older persons independent and mobile, when driving is no longer a safe option.

Best of all, the program works. Surveys show a majority of older drivers whose family asked them to retire from driving said they listened to and followed the suggestions of others.

The bottom line is we all must be vigilant in maintaining our own driving skills and ensuring loved ones – no matter their age – aren’t putting themselves or other drivers at risk. When it comes to cars and driving, everyone’s first priority has to be safety.

Bill Johnston-Walsh


Bill Johnston-Walsh is the state director of AARP Pennsylvania.


Submit a letter to the editor