HOUSTON (KTRK) -- With 11,398 Texas drivers 79 years and older involved in a crash last year, it begs the question: What do we look for if we're concerned our loved one needs to stop driving? It's a touchy subject for many families, but there are ways to make the decision easier on everyone.
Ninety-four-year-old Marian Long started driving at 16.
"I've always been a fast driver," says Long, but over the past few years, she's changed her driving habits.
"I don't go on freeways if I don't need to. I don't drive in the dark too often," she adds.
While Long seems to be apt to drive at 94, Certified Driving Rehab Specialist Ann St. John says some of the signs to look are visual impairment and, "If their processing speed, physical reaction time or cognitive reaction time is really slow, or if it's been reported that they're getting lost."
St. John puts senior citizens through a clinical and behind the wheel evaluation that includes a timed cognitive processing test, a detailed vision test, and a driving test.
Most of St. John's referrals for exams come from doctors and family members. She says a third-party evaluation gives both family members and drivers reassurance.
St. John says Long did a good job, but has some advice.
"I want you to get that right eye checked. And I don't want you driving at night," she told Long.
Finally, St. John says when having a difficult discussion like taking the keys, focus on safety first. Then, ask them to consider their loved ones. If that hasn't worked, have a family discussion with a doctor. Finally, suggest third party testing.
TOP THREE SIGNS TO HANG UP YOUR KEYS:
1. Memory Loss and/or disorientation
2. Inadequate reaction time
3. Getting lost in familiar areas
SIGNS YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR DRIVING SKILLS CHECKED:
1. Medical diagnosis that includes any of the following:
a. Cognitive/Mental Impairment
b. Physical Limitations
c. Visual Impairments
d. Hearing Impairments
2. Having trouble with gas and/or brake pedals
3. Driving too slow/hesitating too long at intersections
4. Limiting driving; daytime only and/or stopping freeway driving
5. Getting lost in familiar places
6. Being honked at by other drivers
7. Having more "close call" or accidents (even if minor)
8. Passengers complaining about your driving
Strowmatt Rehabilitiation Services: www.driverrehabservices.com
ADED (Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialistis): www.aded.net
AOTA (America Occupational Therapy Association): www.aota.org