Study: Seniors waiting too long to stop driving

Older drivers might be waiting too long to hang up their car keys for good, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Researchers determined more than 80 percent of older drivers never speak with their families about when they should consider getting out from behind the wheel.

"Only about 17 percent of older folks that are on the road are actually having conversations with their family, with their physicians, about when is the right time to stop driving," said Matt Nasworthy, a spokesperson for AAA in Tampa. "We really want more people to be proactive about that sort of thing and that our seniors are safe behind the wheel."

In a news release, AAA advised drivers to begin planning to retire from driving at around the same time they start their retirement planning.

"With seniors outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, families should not wait to talk about safety. AAA urges seniors to begin planning for 'driving retirement' at the same time they begin planning for retirement from work," the agency said in the release.

Reactions to the study from drivers in Tampa Bay were mixed.

"You should be driving as long as you can as long as you can, without having any problem, accidents or anything like that," said Raymond Medina, 71, who retired in 2006. "I think it's needed and I think a lot of people need to drive to get to where they're going, especially older people. As long as they're not having incapacities or incapabilities, I believe they have the right to drive around."

"I think that once you get to a certain age, you should have an extra driving test," said Dave Egloff, who said he had to have the conversation with his mother. "It's a huge, difficult conversation. My mother drove until she was 89 years old...she said, 'if I can't drive, that's it. She was a terrible driver." 

"There are a lot of people, younger people, who don't know how to drive and who are dangerous," added Greg Scholl of Clearwater.

According to AAA, in 2016, more than 200,000 drivers ages 65 and older were injured in a crash and more than 3,500 were killed.