Road safety for older drivers - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Road safety for older drivers

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DODGE CENTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- A crash involving an 86-year-old woman near Dodge Center Wednesday afternoon is raising a major question: how old is too old to drive?

Everyone involved in the Wednesday afternoon crash is OK, but the accident is a frightening reminder of what can happen when someone doesn't stop for a stop sign crossing a major highway.

Experts say the right time to hang up the keys is different for everyone but seniors and families can watch for signs before driving might become dangerous.

It was a frightening moment at the intersection of Highway 56 and County Road 34 near Dodge Center Wednesday afternoon. The Minnesota State Patrol reported that an 86-year-old woman from Owatonna missed a stop sign and struck a car driven by a woman from Rochester with her two young children inside.

No one in the crash was seriously injured, but the accident does bring up the question of when people should give up getting behind the wheel.

It is a sensitive question, something Lavonne Brown knows first hand. She had to prevent her mother from renewing her license after an accident.

Now Brown takes driver safety refresher courses offered through AARP.

"So I can brush up on new laws or if there's anything I've forgotten since I've been driving," said Brown.

Anna Farhman has been teaching driving refresher courses in Stewartville for more than 20 years. She says the courses go through warning signs for when driving may become dangerous.

Warning signs include things like having a lot of near misses, feeling like the world is moving too fast around you and just simply feeling uncomfortable behind the wheel.

"Most of the people that have quit driving do it on their own because they know the time is there," said Fahrman.

When it comes to the idea of mandatory testing at a certain age, she says it's an unnecessary burden on the state.

"It would be almost prohibitive because we hardly have time to get the young people tested," said Fahrman.

The Minnesota State Patrol has advice on how to keep seniors safe behind the wheel longer.

MSP recommends that seniors get their vision prescription checked every year and pay attention to their ability to turn and look in different directions.

Families concerned about the safety of senior drivers can report them anonymously to Driver and Vehicle Services.

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