Skip to content

Staying in the Driver's Seat

Many people feel pressured to stop driving as they age, but how do you know when it's time to give up the keys? "It's really not about the age," says Alberta Motor Association spokesperson Chris Rechner. "It's about the effects of aging.
Supplied

Many people feel pressured to stop driving as they age, but how do you know when it's time to give up the keys? "It's really not about the age," says Alberta Motor Association spokesperson Chris Rechner. "It's about the effects of aging."

AMA offers a Senior Driver in Vehicle Evaluation, and while the response to the program has been very positive, it's a challenge to gain each participant's trust. "When people come in they are nervous and worried about being judged," explains Rechner. "A lot of people have been driving for 40 or 50 years and haven't had any incidents, and now they feel like they are under the microscope."

The program begins simply: A cup coffee and candid discussion with a professional driving evaluator. You then take a 45-minute drive. "We wanted to give seniors a chance to get a confidential one on one no judgment evaluation of their skills," says Rechner. "It gives them confidence to know what they're doing well, some tips on what they can do better, and helps them to stay in control of their own decision as to how long they are going to drive."

After the program is complete a written report is sent in the mail. "It's not sent to the government, it doesn't have any impact on licensing, and we don't share it with your family," stresses Rechner. "Our evaluators are trained to work with seniors, to respect them, to go at the right pace, and to earn that trust."

It seems for many participants the confidence gained after the course is well worth any initial hesitation. "You might not appreciate it when your spouse is criticizing the way you drive," says Rechner. "This gives people a sense of where they're at, and some recommendations."