Voluntarily Giving Up Driving: a Q. & A.

A Woman Who Gave Up Driving Voluntarily at Age 70

Does she look over 70 to you? No way!
Does she look over 70 to you? No way! | Source

What Was This Woman Thinking When She Gave Up Driving?

Q. When did you first make the decision to give up driving when you turned 70, which is now several years ago?

A. "Back in the 1970s, when an elderly relative made the comment that she didn't want to drive with her sister in the car because she didn't want to be responsible for accidents with her sister in the car."

Why Give Up Driving at Age 70?

Q. Why did you stop driving when you turned 70 years old, specifically? Why not 60 or 80?

A. "When I made the decision, I never thought I would live to age 70, and thought that was a really ancient age. I figured I'd be retired and that my activity level wouldn't be such that I'd need a car every day."

What Has Been the Effect of Not Driving?

Q. How has being without your own transportation affected you? I mean, don't you feel a little helpless or trapped, especially since you live alone in a small farming and industrial town but grew up in big-city Washington, D.C.?

A. "No! The biggest change is that I have to plan more carefully. I rely on my kids and neighbors or hire someone to do some tasks.

I've also been ordering many things off of the Internet and having them shipped to me--that is a big one. It's [not driving] affected shopping more than anything else."

What do you think?

Would you ever voluntarily give up your driver's license?

  • Yes
  • Maybe
  • No way!
See results without voting

"I Get Around"

Q. You sold your car, so how do you get around to run errands like grocery shopping?

A. "Taxis and the city buses. Occasionally neighbors and my kids."

Public Reaction

Q. How have your friends reacted to your decision, especially those who are also over age 70 and DO still drive?

A. “They think I’m crazy. They don’t understand it. It doesn’t compute. They’re finally getting used to the idea that I grew up in a city and am used to getting around without a car. Why don’t I ride a bicycle instead? They’ll ask. That would be even worse than driving a car due to my poor eyesight and balance.”

Family Reactions

Q. How has your family reacted to your decision, being an hour away or so?
A. “They have mixed feelings but mostly they’re positive about it. Sometimes it’s an inconvenience, but they mostly adjust.”

Others Over 70 Who Drive

Q. How do you react to your over-70 friends who DO still drive—will you ride in the car with them driving? How do you feel about that?

A. “It is one of my biggest dilemmas. I still ride with them, but it is one of my biggest dilemmas. Some of them don’t drive too well. I mostly take taxis and buses anyway.”

Competent Driver or...?

Q. Setting your decision to stop driving aside for a minute, when you last drove did you feel you were as competent as other drivers on the road, on average?

A. “I don’t know. I know from when I had a medical problem 10 years ago, you can’t know how good you are–you are your own worst judge. A person doesn’t think they’re any worse even when they may be. My daughter has said I was as competent as everyone else, too. But, I picked an age and stuck with it.”

Who do you know?

Do you have any older relatives or neighbors or friends whom you don't think should be driving?

  • Yes, definitely!
  • Yes, maybe in some circumstances
  • No, and even so I wouldn't want to take their dignity away.
See results without voting

Anything Else?

Q. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like people to know?

A. “Yes. Perhaps if I had a lot of additional family in the area (children, grandchildren) I might not have given up my license so easily. I don’t have all the ball games and school events and etc. associated with kids and family.

I just think safety is most important, and I know that as you age you have to be able to respond to emergencies quickly and correctly. Too many people make excuses for their driving: not driving after dark, not driving alone, not driving on busy roads… These are really admissions that they can’t drive as well as they used to, which means they should question themselves on if they should be driving at all.

"And, it doesn’t hurt that you have to plan better around activities. Taking taxis and busses is actually a lot cheaper than owning a car because I can’t go shopping any time I want, so I make lists of what I need and how much of it and then I make one trip and get everything done and am not tempted to go back and get other things.”

A Good Choice for Everyone

Comment: Finally, as your daughter, I want you to know that, although it’s sometimes inconvenient and annoying that you don’t have your license, and I therefore don’t get to see you nearly as often, I’m proud of you for picking a time to stop driving that is well in advance of any problems: I know I don’t have to worry about you causing an accident or being alone in a car without someone to help you should something happen on the country roads in the winter. I think that if more people made this decision/choice there would be many fewer accidents, and their children wouldn’t have to feel guilty knowing that their aging parent was a hazard behind the wheel, or worse: guilty knowing that their aged parent who shouldn’t have been driving caused an accident that killed someone.

Reply: “It’s just a choice of lifestyle: millions of people don’t have cars. Once you decide that, it’s really just a different lifestyle.

Coffee, aspirin, antihistamine, toilet paper—these are things I make sure to never run out of,” she laughs.

Should Older Drivers be Retested Periodically?

A Live Example of a Growing Problem: A Wake-Up Call for Elderly Drivers

Who Decides When a Person should Stop Driving?

More importantly, who SHOULD make the call if they suspect someone is a dangerous or incompetent driver?
More importantly, who SHOULD make the call if they suspect someone is a dangerous or incompetent driver? | Source

What do you think?

Do you think older drivers should be periodically re-tested before renewing their driver's licenses?

  • Yes
  • Yes, everyone (including teenagers) should be re-tested.
  • Yes, everyone should be re-tested at license renewal time, and so should people who had more than one accident (before renewal time).
  • No, only if the older driver has more than 1 accident.
  • No, but teenagers and young people should be re-tested! before their licenses are renewed.
  • No
See results without voting

IF any drivers are required to be re-tested before their license is reissued, who should pay for it?

  • The individual being tested.
  • The state--because testing is cheaper than dealing with accidents
  • The federal government--because testing is cheaper than dealing with accidents
  • Other...
See results without voting

Who Should Make "The Call" If an Incompetent Driver Doesn't Voluntarily Give Up His/Her License?

If you have a loved one who is an incompetent driver for any reason, or if you know of an incompetent driver, you may be at a loss as to what to do. In such cases, contact your local police station through their non-emergency number. They should have information about an agency you can contact that will investigate and evaluate the potentially incompetent driver's actual driving ability and their situation; if it is not "up to snuff" or if they find that the person's doctor has recommended that they not drive any longer, then the agency can take away the driver's license. The report can even be made anonymously, too, so no one need feel blamed specifically for making "The Call" to take away an incompetent driver's license.

Many studies prove that most accidents happen within just a few miles of home, so if you have a neighbor who is a dangerous or incompetent driver, your likelihood of getting involved in an accident with this person is much higher than normal. U.S. Census statistics show that older adults are much more likely than teens to die in any car accident, so you may actually be doing the person a thankless favor.

Don't abuse the system, of course, but remember: an incompetent driver backing out of their driveway may not even see a child—or group of adults—walking or riding their bicycles past the driveway at the same time. Or, they may see them and press the gas pedal instead of the brakes. And tragedy could strike just that fast in your neighborhood.

If you're not sure and your mind is unsettled, just ask yourself if you could sleep well at night if you DON'T make the call and an accident such as I've just described happens. Best to let the experts do the evaluations, in my mind, and let them either ensure or improve safety for everyone on the roads.

Post Script

P.S. Writing this article, talking with my mom some more about her decision, and reading the responses to this article has convinced me that pre-determining an age to stop driving and mentally and practically preparing for it is an easier choice than it would be to each day get behind the wheel and decide whether I was competent or not. Or, worse, having an accident or having my license suspended for unsafe driving.

I have committed to myself and my family to stop driving at age 75 (at the latest), since I plan to work until I am age 70 at least and will hopefully live past my 70s.

What about you? Will you make such a promise to yourself? To your family? To your friends and relatives who will one day worry about you? To neighbors whose kids could get run down accidentally by darting out in back of you as you back out of the garage, and in panic you hit the gas instead of the brake pedal?

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Comments 21 comments

shea duane profile image

shea duane 4 years ago from new jersey

You and your family are so lucky to have such an intelligent person in your lives. You are blessed!


mjboomer profile image

mjboomer 4 years ago from Oregon

Interesting perspective, many find it difficult to give up the freedom associated with driving, even when they knoe they are a danger to others.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

I love your Mommy. She is sweet and wise. I am 56 and out of circumstances have not had a car for almost 2 years now. I live in a rural area so the closest bus is about a half hour away. I have learned to be very resourceful and to get as much done as I can when I do go to town. I get tired of it from time to time, but it passes. Most often, I get to where I need to go and that's that. I have so many good friends and being on disability in my state there is a transit service paid for by the state that picks up disability persons anywhere and takes them to their medical appointments anywhere. That has taken a huge burden off of me. I have great support. God bless your sweet mama.


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

shea duane--Yes, I think so, too. She is very smart and made a very hard but good decision that makes the roads safer for everyone and me sleep more soundly at night.

mjboomer--I would find it very difficult to give up my license, too, but I would do it. The age I picked to give up my license is 75 because I plan to work until age 70 at least. I would give it up then or sooner if I thought I was a danger--I could never live with myself if I knowingly drove when I was impaired and caused an accident that hurt someone else, especially a family or school bus.

lambservant--I totally agree--I love my mommy and she is sweet and wise. A student she tutored in math said it best: "You put the 'joy' in Joyce." Mom is incredibly smart, educated, and caring and always tries to "do the right thing", whatever the cost to her, in every situation. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.


innerspin profile image

innerspin 4 years ago from uk

What a sensible, selfless decision your mother made. It amazes me that she stuck to her original idea, given that it was made years previously. Many people would get to the "appointed age" and reconsider, I'm sure. Sadly, there are many drivers out there who really shouldn't be on the road. I'm not sure I could pick ahead of time an age when I'd no longer drive, but sure as heck hope I'd have the sense to realize when that was appropriate. Thanks for sharing your mother's decision.


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

Thanks for your kind words. I read it to my mom and she said that was really nice of you to say. She's been without driving for 3 years now and doesn't seem to miss it. She said she likes riding in the back of a cab--kind of like being chauffered (sp?) around.


Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 3 years ago from Northern California

Hi Laura,

The mother of a hiking acquaintance lived to the ripe old age of 105. She gave up horseback riding when she was in her 90s. Why? She said that the horse was too old.

Voted up.


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

That's a great story! I'm so glad that people are living--really LIVING--longer nowdays. They have so much to teach younger people and have so many funny stories like this to relay.

Thanks for sharing this story, Larry Fields! I got a good chuckle out of it. Reminds me of some of the elders in my family. One of whom used to park her car by sound--listening for when the bumper hit the garage, the car or wall she was parking near, etc. She was forced to give up her license in her early 90s by physical illness that prevented her from operating any vehicle other than her wheelchair.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

An amazing truth of life, sometimes age has nothing to do with decisions, the way one feels makes things change.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

Such an amazing story and I completely agree with your mom's and your own decision to stop driving at a certain age. Nice hub. Voted up.


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

Thanks so much for your feedback! I admit, I changed my mind after writing this article and reading the feedback. I hope you will do the same--pick any random age to stop driving, and then simply stop.

Thanks for stopping.

Cheers!


Riviera Rose profile image

Riviera Rose 3 years ago from South of France

I think your mother's very brave. Let's face it, we all know we are going to age and our reactions are going to deteriorate, but choosing to call time on your driving - that's a brave decision. So many accidents in the UK are caused by older drivers just getting it wrong - at some point you have to re-evaluate your life and maybe move closer to a town where you can walk and socialise rather than be stuck in your car. Healthier and probably more fun, too. I wish your mother a long and happy life!


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

Thanks for your well-wishes--I'll pass them along to her. I hope she lives a long and healthy life, too. More importantly, she appears to be enjoying life without a car--she says that, every time she gets into a cab or bus, she feels like she's royalty with her own chauffeur.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

A very interesting look on an elderly person's view of driving, Laura. My mom is 91 years old and is still competently driving to local small towns. However, she is not typical of those her age as she is also in excellent health with only a bit hearing problems.

"I'm getting tired of driving all these old people to the doctor," she said in all seriousness to me the other day. lol! I suppose it depends on the particular person as to the age when they stop driving. Enjoyed!


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

Thanks, Randy! I got a good laugh out of your mom's comment, too. I applaud her for, at 91, still driving and having a sense of humor! Cheers!


The Stages Of ME profile image

The Stages Of ME 3 years ago

Dear Laura ~ I just came across your Hub and the timing could not be more perfect. This is an issue we are currently facing with a family member. He is in his 80's. Such a tough call and decision. You and your mom put so many things in perspective here. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Blessings to you :)


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Author

I am so, so glad that this article helped you and your family! This fills my heart with joy, whenever I hear someone has benefited or been moved by something I've written.

If you don't want to do the dirty work and take the keys and license away yourself, contact your local police station. They should have information about an agency you can contact that will investigate and evaluate the person in question's actual driving ability and situation; if it is not "up to snuff" or if they find that the person's doctor has recommended that they not drive any longer, then they can take away the driver's license. The report can be made anonymously, too, so no one need feel blamed specifically for making "The Call". [I'll add this to the article above; I can't think why I never thought of it in the first place.]

I wish you and your family the very best in handling this delicate situation quickly and as painlessly as possible.

--Laura


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi laura,

What a wonderful idea interviewing your mum, and what a lovely lady she is. A very interesting article and subject matter which struck a chord with me in two ways. Firstly my dad is widowed (my mum passed away 16 years ago suddenly) and now lives with a wonderful lady of 6 years. he is in his mid 70's and is as active and relies on his car. He had a few serious eye surgeries which has affected one eye and causes me to to worry when we drives but I would never ask him to give up his licence. I have spoken with him about it but I think ultimately it is his decision. I only got my licence 2-3 yrs ago as I have Epilepsy and that too has caused me worries at times but I am controlled with medication. I can relate to older people not driving and having to rely on buses, public transport, friends or relatives and grocery shopping was always difficult but you can do it just requires some thought.

Great work Laura, your writing is a joy to read, voted up, useful, interesting, awesome and shared!!


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 3 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

Wow! She is pretty and look much younger than 70.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Wonderful topic, and I so applaud both your mother and you for your support of her. Everyone is different, but it is so much better to make this decision for oneself. I like that you also included suggestions on what to do if you are concerned about someone you know. Good, useful information. Voted up and useful!


srsddn profile image

srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

lauraschneider, I find the Hub quite interesting. It is a reminder to me to contemplate on this issue five years later, if not today. I know an army officer friend who continued driving even after 90 years of age. The decision could be based on individual's judgment but such decisions need to be taken at right time. Thanks for sharing.

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