The Concern About Older Drivers

Recently, I just got back from a trip to Charlotte to visit with my grandmother who is now 78 years old. For 78 years of age, she is still extremely independent and sharp as a tack. She has her own car, drives herself around, runs her errands and meets up with friends for lunch, etc. However, what I have noticed is that my grandmother does not do well with driving at night.

As you get older, it appears that we tend to trust ourselves less and less where better judgment is concerned. Nowhere is this more true than when we are behind the wheel of a car at night. My grandmother has admitted to me time and again that she does not feel comfortable driving her car at night. Even though her vision is perfect, she hesitates to drive herself anywhere when it is dark out and always makes sure that her plans revolve around daytime hours, leaving her plenty of time to turn in for the night before it gets dark out.

On one occasion, I was able to see what she was talking about when it came to driving during the nighttime hours. My uncle, who lives approximately three minutes from my grandmother had invited my boyfriend, my grandmother and I over for dinner at his house. I wasn’t sure of how to get to his house from where my grandmother lived at the time, and besides this, my grandmother had volunteered to drive us there. I didn’t argue, and I also didn’t think anything of it. So, off in the car we went. As soon as we pulled out from my grandmother’s parking space at her apartment complex, I was almost instantly nervous. She kept hesitating and braking, wanting to make sure that there was nothing behind her car. My boyfriend and I reassured her that there was nothing blocking her car, and eventually she put the car in drive, and we headed out of the apartment complex.

The entire time that we were driving to my uncle’s house, my grandmother kept braking for no reason, almost sending me through the windshield a couple of times. She didn’t really give an explanation for the constant braking, and I didn’t really ask because I could look over and see that she was trying very hard to focus. I kept glancing behind us at other drivers to make sure that they weren’t following us too closely because I was afraid that with all of the stop and start braking that someone would rear end us and get into an accident.

The three minutes that it should have taken us to get to my uncle’s house were the longest three minutes of my life in a vehicle. Towards the end of our dinner at my uncle’s house, I started to worry about the drive back to my grandmother’s apartment. Should I volunteer to drive us back to her apartment? I was worried that if I brought it up, I might offend my grandmother. At the same time, however, I didn’t want to offend my grandmother by suggesting such an idea. Later on, my grandmother admitted that driving at night made her nervous. I guess it is just something that happens as we age. The next time, though, I will be doing the driving!