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Tragic anniversary is reminder to care for elderly drivers

Chris Woodward   ( Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This week marks 10 years since one of the worst traffic accidents in U.S. history; but how to prevent it from happening again remains anyone's guess, especially when dealing with elderly parents.

Ten years ago, 86-year-old George Russell Weller drove through a Santa Monica, California, farmer's market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 60. The incident ignited a public debate on whether people of a certain age should not drive, but to this day, Sharon Carty of AOL Autos writes no one wants to appear ageist.

Furthermore, Carty says there is no good age at which to put a limit on, and there are no tests that are comprehensive enough to determine whether someone has lost physical abilities, including the ability to make good decisions behind the wheel.

So what can people do if they'are concerned about an older parent or grandparent no longer being able to drive?

"I think a lot of time when we get in the car with our parents, we tend to just drive them because it's easier. But you should actually encourage your parents to drive so you can get an eyewitness account of how they're driving,” Carty suggests.

“Also, look for dings and dents on their car. That will be the sign that they might not be pulling into parking spots the right way and they're starting to lose that spatial ability. Keep an eye out for traffic citations. If they're starting to get more tickets, that's also a sign."

When it is time to talk to aging parents, Carty says one has to be prepared to offer alternatives for them and not simply accept no for an answer. Meanwhile, she suggests not allowing emotions or denial prevent confronting the older driver.

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