Our bodies change in ways that can affect our driving ability as we age. Unfortunately, these changes can increase our risk for crashes. There are ways older drivers can stay safe behind the wheel, however. Today, we at Top Notch Auto Body & Mechanics would like to discuss some common risk factors for senior citizen drivers and how to stay safe.
Why is Driving Particularly Challenging to So Many Elderly Individuals?
With motor vehicle crashes involving senior drivers, there are a number of risk factors that can contribute. Below are the most common.
Vision and/or Hearing is Poor: It’s common for our vision or hearing to deteriorate as people age. It can make it more difficult to see or hear other vehicles on the road, pedestrians or traffic signals as a result. Make certain to visit your doctor for a checkup if you’re having trouble seeing or hearing while driving.
Medication Side Effects: Their ability to drive can be affected by medications, which is likely among senior drivers. Some medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness or slowed reflexes. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any potential side effects that could affect your ability to drive safely if you’re taking medication.
Reflexes are Slowed: Our reflexes tend to slow down as the body ages. Reacting quickly in a driving situation is made difficult as a result. It may be best to limit your driving to daylight hours and avoid highways or other high-speed roads if you find that your reflexes have slowed down.
Chronic Conditions: The ability to drive can be impacted by conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. Make certain to talk to your doctor about how it could affect your driving and what you can do to stay safe on the road if you have a chronic condition.
What are Safe Driving Strategies for Seniors?
It’s only natural for us to start worrying about their safety on the road as our loved one’s age. According to the CDC, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for adults over the age of 65 after all. It’s important to have a frank and open conversation about their capabilities behind the wheel while we may be hesitant to broach the subject of safe driving with our elderly relatives. Below are a few tips on how to approach this sensitive topic.
1) Schedule a time to chat. Specifically for this conversation, it’s important to set aside some time. They will be more likely to be receptive to what you have to say and your loved one won’t feel ambushed.
2) Express your concerns. As to why you’re bringing up the subject of safe driving skills, be honest with your senior loved one. Explain you just want to make sure they’re comfortable and confident behind the wheel and do not want to limit their independence.
3) Suggest alternatives. there are other options you can suggest, such as hiring a driver or using public transportation IF your loved one is reticent to give up driving altogether. when necessary, you can also offer to drive them yourself.
4) Have patience and understanding. This is a difficult conversation for both of you, which is important to remember. Avoid getting into an argument with your loved one and be patient. It is essential to be respectful of their feelings as they may be feeling scared or even angry about giving up driving.
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