To My Three Sons: Take My Keys, Please

I, James P. Borden, being of sound mind and body, hereby give my three children the right to take my car keys away from me as soon as they feel I should no longer be driving. If I protest your decision, simply show this post to me to remind me of this decision I made when I was more rational regarding such a decision.

This post was motivated by an article that was in this past Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer that talked about how hard it is to get certain elderly drivers off the road, even if there is evidence that those drivers are putting themselves and others at risk.

The article talks about how little power the police have to take an elderly person’s license, and how insurance companies are often hesitant to get involved because they don’t want to lose the premiums associated with insuring such drivers.

I think one of the best ways to manage the problem is to have a required full driver’s test every year, once someone reaches a certain age; 60 seems like a good number. Such a test would include a written portion, a vision part, and a driving portion. Currently, only one state, Illinois, has a driving requirement for elderly drivers, and that doesn’t take effect until a driver reachers the age of 75. Many states do require a vision test as part of the license renewal process for older drivers, but to me that only focuses on one aspect of what may hinder an older person’s ability to drive effectively.

There are a couple of forces acting in direct opposition to each other regarding this issue. First, there are more and more people becoming “older” drivers every year, which to me increases the likelihood of a greater number of driving accidents. However, to counter this, there has been the advent of technologies that make it easier for people to get by without cars. First, services such as Uber and Lyft  can provide seniors the help they need to get around if they no longer have their own car. Second, service such as Amazon make it easy to get many of the items we may need without ever having to leave our house. I would have no problem using such a car service if I no longer could drive, and my wife and I already use Amazon on a frequent basis.

I think another solution is to choose your retirement locale carefully. My wife and I have already talked about wanting to live somewhere where we would be within walking distance to just about everything we would need, which would once again lessen our need for a car.

While some may protest such recommendations, claiming that when you are living on a fixed income, you may not be able to afford using a car service, or to move somewhere that enables you to walk to where you need to go.

That may be true, but some of those costs would be offset by having no car ownership costs – gas, insurance, maintenance and repairs, parking, license and registration fees, etc.

So bottom line, I think older drivers need to think about this issue before it is too late, and before you and your loved ones get caught up in an highly emotional argument on the issue. Start planning now for what your life would be like without a car, everyone will be the better for such forward thinking.




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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

4 thoughts on “To My Three Sons: Take My Keys, Please”

  1. Jim, I think this is a great idea, in theory. Sadly there are brain diseases (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s) that render a person unable to understand or comply with a previous contract or written statement such as you suggest. Many people with dementia who I have met, have no awareness of their condition or the dangers associated with it. Taking away the car keys, though absolutely necessary, is a wrenching and traumatic event for everyone.


    1. Hi Lynn. Thanks for your insights. I’m sure it’s a tough decision for everyone; that’s why it would be nice if the person could give up driving before their decision making became impaired.



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