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Steven M. Lee, PC

What You Can Do to Prevent Older Drivers From Causing Car Accidents

While older adults are more likely than their younger counterparts to receive traffic citations, suffer fender benders, and suffer fatal injuries after a crash, they’re actually not the age group with the highest collision risk. Teenage boys hold the title for riskiest age group for collisions. So why do seniors have a reputation as being bad drivers?

Effects of Aging That Can Make Driving Difficult

It’s important to remember that not all seniors are bad drivers; they are merely in an age group that has known driving risks, such as:

  • Poor eyesight.  For many people, poor eyesight is the first major signal that they are aging. They may need glasses when they never did before, or they may have cataracts or other eye conditions. Older folks may find they have trouble seeing when driving at night, they have extra sensitivity to light, or they have difficulty focusing.
  • Slowed reflexes.  As a body ages, flexibility lessens and reflexes can begin to slacken. This can be a serious problem while driving since avoiding an accident will frequently require both astute thinking and the ability to maneuver quickly.
  • Memory loss. Forgetfulness can be a discouraging effect of aging and cause older drivers to become confused and lose track of where they are going.

Keeping Elderly Drivers Safe

Although they aren’t technically the worst drivers, elderly drivers do have an increased risk for accidents as a result of deteriorating health. If you love an older driver, knowing how to help her keep her health in check can increase her quality of life and her abilities behind the wheel. If you begin to see a deterioration of her driving abilities, encourage her to do the following:

  • Visit the doctor regularly. Receiving physical exams from a doctor regularly can let your loved one know if she is still able to physically and mentally take on the duties of driving. The doctor can also review the medications she is on and assess whether side effects could be impairing her driving abilities.
  • Have routine eye exams. Declines in eyesight can happen quickly and unexpectedly, but when your loved one is monitored by an eye doctor, you can all keep tabs on her vision.
  • Exercise regularly. Moving and shaking not only helps your loved one stay healthy, but allows her to be strong and flexible enough to operate a vehicle safely and effectively.

What Families Can Do to Respect and Protect Their Elders

Contrary to what some may think, there isn't some magical age where people are better off retiring their driver's license and seeking alternative modes of transportation. Though we all age, we do so in different ways. Sometimes a healthy 90-year-old may be more capable of driving than a 70-year-old with chronic health problems. Therefore, in order to keep your loved one safe as well as protect fellow drivers, you need to be able to recognize the aging signs that may jeopardize your loved one’s ability to continue to drive safely.  

If your relative is showing signs of aging that pose a danger on the road, you can ease her mind by talking to her about alternative modes of transportation. Offering rides from friends or family, using local public transportation, hailing a taxi cab, or riding a community shuttle are all safer and much less expensive than paying for gas and car payments.

Want to do more? Encourage friends and family to speak to their parents and grandparents about their driving by sharing this page on Facebook, Twitter, or email to show your concern for your aging loved ones’ safety.


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