Weather Alerts 1 View »

To keep the keys or not: How old is too old to drive?

  • Play

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

To keep the keys or not: How old is too old to drive?

CREATED Aug 31, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
 
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A 100-year-old man backed his vehicle into a crowd, injuring 14 people in an elementary school parking lot Wednesday, according to Los Angeles police. The incident’s restarted a touchy debate among drivers and within families: When should a senior citizen stop driving? How old is too old to drive? They’re sensitive questions affecting everyone on the road and sidewalk.
 
The LA incident left around a dozen children injured, according to reports. 9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Betty Garfield, “What goes through your mind when you hear a story like that?” “Frightening. Very frightening,” the 88-year-old driver answered. “I hope I would realize before anything like that might happen (and) they would take the keys away.”
 
Garfield still has her car keys, though the Tucsonan hasn't used them lately because of a hip injury.
 
“It took you off of the road, but you'd like to return?” Keen asked her. “Yes, my car is waiting for me,” Garfield laughed.
 
Anxiously waiting to regain independence and patiently waiting for a ride right now.
 
So, when should a senior stop driving?
 
Keen asked Valerie Vinyard of AAA Arizona, “Is there any easy answer to: Should they, should they not give up the keys?” “There's never really an easy answer,” the public affairs specialist replied, “but AAA believes that age does not dictate when someone should give up their keys.”
 
What should be the deciding factor? Ability, according to AAA. To gauge ability, the company tests a person's leg strength, mobility, flexibility, visual acuity and memory, among other things.
 
They’re all factors family, friends, medical professionals and the senior should talk over, knowing the time to hitch a ride indefinitely could come.
 
Keen asked Garfield, “Have you thought about that?” “It's something that crosses my mind,” she answered. “But as long as I feel I have my faculties and I seem to be OK, I'm able to drive.”
 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and AAA offer advice for aging drivers. The Tucson AAA office will also hold a “Keeping the Keys” workshop on September 21. Call 520-258-0518 for more information.