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Is it time to stop driving? Warning signs for California seniors

Some California drivers can operate a car safely as long as they live. Others, perhaps, should stop driving once their faculties such as eyesight and decision-making ability begin to falter.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles, however, wants to help seniors and their families make the determination as to how long elders should continue to drive.

"The goal of the DMV is to keep experienced senior drivers as mobile as possible for as long as possible, extending their safe-driving years," a DMV spokeswoman said.

The DMV has compiled a list of warning signs to help assess when a senior might be nearing the time to stop driving. Reviewing it will help with self-evaluation if you're an older adult.

"Research has shown that seniors tend to police themselves, so when they feel they can no longer drive safely, they voluntarily give up their car keys," the spokeswoman said. "Now, of course, there's always exceptions and we are here to help them."

The warning signs, as written by the DMV, include:

  • Feeling uncomfortable, nervous, angry or fearful while driving
  • Dents and scrapes on the car, fences, mailbox, garage doors, curbs, etc.
  • Drifting across lane markers or into other lanes.
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Ignoring signs and signals
  • Driving too slow or fast
  • Frequent "close calls" or collisions
  • Late braking
  • Difficulty judging gaps in traffic
  • Other drivers often honk at you
  • Friends or relatives not wanting to ride with you
  • Being easily distracted or having a hard time concentrating while driving
  • Difficulty turning your head to check over your shoulder when backing or changing lanes
  • Getting frequent traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement officers
  • Having difficulty finding your parked vehicle

These are good warning signs for seniors and their families. The DMV recommends that children talk to their parents before driving becomes a problem so that the seniors can be aware of these signs and start thinking about their driving futures. Neither drivers nor their kids would want the drivers to get into an accident that causes injury to either the senior, the occupants of another car or a pedestrian.

On the other hand, if you have been in an accident with a senior driver and are injured, a California attorney can work with that driver and their insurance company to recover any costs due to you.

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