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How Do You Say It's Time<br>To Give Up the Car Keys?

An AARP-ND program provides a model for talking to drivers with impaired skills about risks and safety.

One of the most difficult decisions many people face as they age is whether and when to give up the keys to their car. To make it easier for family members and friends to have the thorny and challenging conversation with an older driver about limiting or stopping driving, AARP and the North Dakota Highway Patrol are offering seminars called “We Need to Talk: Family Conversations with Older Drivers.”

During the 90-minute seminars, Highway Patrol officers will lead discussions on topics such as when it is a good time to talk with older family members or friends about their driving. Participants learn how to recognize warning signs, deal with strong emotions and explore transportation alternatives to keep a former driver actively engaged in community life.

The “We Need to Talk” program offers support for families and friends of older drivers transitioning from driving to not driving. Older parents and adult children often view driving differently. From the older person’s point of view, driving is likely to be more than a practical issue. It is often linked to feelings of competence, independence, and being part of society.

Adult children often wonder whether and when their parents should stop driving, but many older parents resent having their driving ability questioned and don’t believe there is a problem.

Statistics indicate that older adults can be safe drivers with good driving records. However, medical conditions, medication usage, and age-related changes in physical and mental function can increase the risk of crashes and injuries among older adults.

The North Dakota State Data Center projects that by 2020 nearly 1 in 4 North Dakotans will be 65 or older. North Dakota already has the highest percentage in the country of people 85 and older. Additionally, many of the state’s elderly population live in rural areas and small towns, requiring them to travel long distances for medical care, shopping and other services. Growth in the state’s largest cities is resulting in more traffic and more difficult driving conditions. That’s why the seminar also explores alternative forms of transportation.

To find or schedule a “We Need to Talk” seminar in your area, call your regional Highway Patrol office:

Bismarck: 701-328-5590
Devils Lake: 701-662-2527
Dickinson: 701-227-6565
Fargo: 701-239-8960
Grand Forks: 701-795-3832
Jamestown: 701-251-6229
Minot: 701-837-7637
Williston: 701-774-4360

Other Resources

AARP Driver Safety Program

AARP Driver Safety Online Course


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