This is a question that comes up a lot. Unfortunately there is no good answer. In Lee County, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers we have a very large senior population. If you have ever driven in our area there are a lot of bad drivers to begin with. This high number of bad drivers can be due to a large population of tourists unsure of the area, soccer moms in a hurry to get the kids, or just plain lack of courtesy. While all bad and/or impaired drivers can be a threat and danger to themselves and the population surrounding them often seniors get a bad reputation. That’s why Abby Services works with the LCSO (Lee County Sheriff’s Office) on a program called Carfit.
CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. Carfit is sponsored by the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), AAA (The American Automobile Association), and AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons). The CarFit program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that could enhance their safety as drivers, and/or increase their mobility in the community. At a CarFit event, a team of trained technicians and/or health professionals work with each participant to ensure they “fit” their vehicle properly for maximum comfort and safety. A CarFit check takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. These events happen throughout the community. According to the carfit website, “Older drivers are often the safest drivers in that they are more likely to wear their seatbelts, and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when a crash does occur due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies. Driver safety programs improve adult driver safety by addressing cognitive abilities and skills, however, older drivers can also improve their safety by ensuring their cars are properly adjusted for them. A proper fit in one’s car can greatly increase not only the driver’s safety but also the safety of others.” Here is a link to the Carfit website for more info.
Unfortunately despite being largely safe drivers there situations that seniors find themselves in where they may be unsafe or a friend or family member may feel that they are unsafe to continue driving. A seniors ability to drive safely can be evaluated by a medical professional and required by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Forms can be submitted anonomously that will in turn require an evaluation. Here is a link to the form:
Sometimes drivers will be required or wish to to be evaluated further. In those instances trained driving safety professionals conduct an evaluation to demonstrate their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Here is one local option: The Stephen Emerson Driving School.
Together with family and resources such as Abby Services Senior Care there are many options.