Driving safety is a serious issue faced by senior citizens and their families. Older drivers are more likely to have illnesses or visual impairment that may make driving more dangerous. California is one of the few states where doctors are required to report drivers with serious health concerns to the authorities. It’s generally up to the seniors family to let them know when driving may be a safety risk.
How Aging Affects Driving Skills
Let’s take a look how aging can affect driving ability. Older drivers may have slower reaction times which can be critical if sudden braking is needed. Health issues such as stiff joints, eye or hearing problems and arthritis can also be an issue. Frequent close calls such as minor accidents are a sign that it may be time to check with a doctor if it’s safe to continue driving. Studies show that seniors are more likely to misjudge traffic when making left-hand turns and drift out of their lanes. On the other hand, seniors are less likely to drive while intoxicated and are more likely to wear a seatbelt.
Luckily our cars are safer than ever before thanks to modern technology which can be very beneficial to older drivers. Advanced headlights have the ability to adjust intensity and decrease glare during night time. Blind spot warning systems make it easier to change lanes while systems such as OnStar notifies the authorities immediately during a car accident.
It’s a good idea for older drivers to receive frequent physical check-ups including vision tests in order to make sure that glasses and contacts are up to date. Medication can be another issue and cause drowsiness. Cars with automatic transmissions are recommended because they are easier to maneuver versus stick shift.
Many older drives alter their driving habits as they get older. Some may avoid driving night time while others may avoid freeways and take inside streets.
Some states, such as California require anyone over the age of 70 to take a mandatory retest If they are involved in more than two accidents during 12 months. The burden generally falls on relatives and family members to step in if they are worried about an elder’s driving behavior. Giving up the ability to drive can be life changing since we depend on our cars to take us grocery shopping, doctor and visit friends and family. Giving up driving usually means a loss of independence and further dependence on loved ones. However, it is important to remember that driving is a privilege and that public safety should always be a priority.
Written by Jacqueline Star – St Louis Ford Dealer offers a large selection of cars with extensive safety features for drivers of all age ranges.