There are many reasons why someone of my advanced age makes the decision to stop driving and give up their car. These are the reasons why I gave up my car when I moved to Los Angeles:
I’m 88 years old! I’ve heard all the jokes about elderly drivers creeping along the busy freeway at 35 miles per hour with turn signals blinking. In reality, despite bragging about my 70-year record of flawless driving, I realized it was time to quit.
Accepting the inevitable. Poet Dylan Thomas wrote: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rage at close of day.” I disagree. I recently moved to Los Angeles to be with family and gave my car to one of my adult children. Now I do go gently at night when a younger family member drives. There are also nearby bus and taxi services available day and night. Accepting, I don’t burn and rage that I’m no longer capable of driving safely.
Physical reasons to quit driving. As with many people my age, I’m proud of how I can still use my brain and body with independence. However, I’m realistic enough to know my eyes are not as good as they once were, nor are my reflexes quick enough to drive a car in today’s busy city street and highway traffic.
Statistics reveal the truth. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that based on per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting when drivers are age 75, and climb higher after age 80. The reasons given are age-related declines in vision, as well as ability to reason and remember.
Senior drivers are more closely monitored. The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety lists requirements for older drivers by state. Most make drivers 66 and older must take more intense and more frequent eye and driving tests to be approved for renewal. Additionally, the new licenses are issued to be in effect for fewer years than those of younger drivers. This requires more frequent state-applied testing.
How I cope. First, I moved to a location that allows me to walk almost anywhere I need to go. Grocery store, shopping, everything we need is all within a block or so of where I live. For appointments and when I need to go further, there are a range of free transportation options available to me as a senior. Here in Los Angeles, Cityride is the public portal for all the different services, most of which are free for seniors.