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Steven M. Lee, PC

Conditions Related to Aging That May Impact a Person's Ability to Drive Safely

Aging is simply a part of life that no one can avoid, but it is important to be aware of any limitations that may arise as we get older. One key activity that elderly individuals should continually monitor themselves with is getting behind the wheel of a car and driving. 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 and in many cases, a healthy 90-year-old may be more capable of driving than a 70-year-old with chronic health problems.

There is, however, one fact that is important to remember: fatal car crash rates rise sharply after a driver has reached the age of 70. Older adults are more likely to receive traffic citations and get into car accidents than younger, less experienced drivers.

What is causing this severe increase in accidents? It varies from case to case, but typically, it is something health related.

Common Reasons for Car Accidents Involving Elderly Drivers

  • Declining 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, that they have extra sensitivity to light, or they have difficulty focusing.
  • Slowed reflexes and diminished range of motion:  As a body ages, it will begin to have slower reflexes and won't be able to move as freely. This can be a serious problem while driving because avoiding an accident will frequently require quick thinking and reflexes.
  • Memory issues:  Even as their bodies begin to have trouble functioning fully, some older people will still be okay behind the wheel because their memory is still sharp and certain routes as second nature to them. However, when the mind and memory start to deteriorate, elderly drivers may find themselves lost and confused.

There are many other ways that aging can affect an individual's ability to drive, so if you're concerned about a loved one who may need to stop driving, speak with them and try to schedule a doctor's appointment for a professional opinion.

Were you involved in a Houston car accident caused by an elderly driver? If so, do you think the driver's age played a role in the crash?

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