After driving for so long, it’s a very difficult decision to turn in your car keys. Just the thought of turning them in can be overwhelming and may seem like a total loss of freedom.

You use your car to run errands, shop, visit family and friends, go to church, or go for a joy ride. The marker of how enjoyable your days are may very well be how able you are to get around. But when your safety is at risk, it’s time for some honesty. Will you know when it’s time to turn in your keys?

Self Assessment

The only person that really knows how you feel behind the wheel is you. Are you starting to notice anxiety out on the road when you used to be completely calm? You might start to get nervous in traffic whereas before you didn’t bat an eye.

Another indicator of when it’s time to stop driving is your reaction speed. It’s known that as we get older, our reaction times slow down. A slow reaction time is associated with a higher risk for car accidents.

Have a look at your reaction time and be don’t like to yourself. Are you able to respond in a timely manner when something jumps out at you? Have you had situations in which you have almost hit a car or animal due to slow reaction time? Do you find yourself not noticing pedestrians?

Family Assessment

If your family and friends start to tell you that your driving skills are going downhill, it’s safe to assume you are starting to lose the magic touch. These people are worried about you getting into an accident.

If someone very close to you shows concern over your driving, it’s best to take their opinion very seriously. Question what they have noticed as bad driving. They might refer to a habit you’ve had for years, but they may also have legitimate concerns of your driving habits becoming worse.

As an example, your husband or wife may remind you of a situation in which your slow reaction time caused you to rear-end another vehicle. If you start to notice similar things being said by a lot of different people, it’s safe to assume that it’s true, though you may want a professional assessment.

Professional Assessment

Driver’s ed, driver training, and some driving assessment programs are available in any state. If you are seriously considering giving up your driver’s license, you may want to see a professional for an assessment.

It’s known that aging changes your senses. Many people eventually need glasses once they get into their 40s, and hearing starts to go downhill at older ages as well. These senses are key to being alert, which is essential to safe driving.

There may be some other reasons for a decline in driving skills, such as the use of medications. Many medications have a side effect of making one sleepy or fatigued, which will slow reaction times even further.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that fatigue, due to any reason, is responsible for over 1,500 deaths and 40,000 injuries every year, and those injuries tend to be more of the severe variety when speaking in terms of fatigue-related accidents.

Other Considerations

In addition to the physical indicators of when it may be time to turn in the keys, there are some other factors as well, such as finances. It can be quite expensive to keep a car legal on the road since most states make it mandatory that you have liability insurance.

Likewise, registering a vehicle can be costly. More factors to consider are gas and maintenance that go into driving a car. Lastly, some final considerations include storing the car and what kind of climate you live in. For example, you may not want to have to shovel the car out of snow in a colder climate.

Adjusting to Changes

After giving up your license or just your car, it may feel like huge changes have taken place. You may begin to feel like you can’t go where you want.

Of course, some people will drive you around often enough, but you may just want to run some quick errands or drive to a nice park on a sunny day. There are likely going to be some schedule conflicts between what you want to do and the time that your drivers have to take you there.

Fortunately, there are some other options outside of family and friends. Organized driving pools are a great option for getting around nowadays. There is a very large number of people who are reaching the age where they need to turn in their driver’s license, so new solutions will continue to come out.

When all is said and done, it really comes down to road safety. Everyone is sharing the same roads, and if one driver isn’t capable of driving safely, the chance of a car accident is much higher.

Resources for Further Reading

For more information about driving pools, consult your local retirement association. You may even be able to find transportation through local church groups, and if your city has public transportation, that’s always an option as well.

Check out the NHTSA for information pertaining to driving and aging along with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. You can locate services by state to help you with ride sharing as well.