(FOX19) - When is it time for an older driver to give up the keys to their car? That's a question faced by senior citizens and their adult children every day.
Currently in the United States, there are an estimated 33,000,000 licensed drivers age 65 and older. However, statistics indicate older drivers run a higher risk of being injured or killed in an accident.
A program called 'Beyond Driving with Dignity' is designed to help seniors decide when they should give up their keys.
"We do that based on facts. So we do an in-depth personal interview. We do several pen and paper exercises, and we do a driving exercise," explained Nancy Schuster of Beyond Driving with Dignity.
Schuster says the program involves a 3-hour assessment to determine an older driver's ability.
"I've done enough of these assessments across a broad range of ages that, I mean, I've seen first hand age is not an indicator. So, I really think it has a lot to do with cognitive ability, decision making, you know, that type of stuff as well as your physical well being," said Schuster.
85-year-old Earl Guswiler took the assessment after recovering from heart surgery.
"The big concern was my balance more than anything else," he explained.
Guswiler passed the assessment with flying colors and says he feels very comfortable behind the wheel.
"I think I can get in the car right now and drive to California without any problem," he added.
On the contrary, it is a problem for many older drivers, and the decision to give up their car keys can be very difficult.
"It's probably one of the single most difficult decisions that an older driver makes because it's very often seen as the last bastion of independence. 'If I don't drive, I'm a prisoner in my home'," said Schuster.
Beyond Driving with Dignity offers transportation alternatives, as well.
The program $300, and seniors who decide to keep driving can be reassessed at no charge. Program officials say about 60% of seniors enrolled in the program choose to give up driving.
For further explanation of the assessment workbook, follow this link: http://www.keepingussafe.org/beyonddrivingwithdignityworkbook.htm