Every time an incident occurs on the roads that involves a senior, the question arises again whether or not people of a certain age should have to pass their driving test again, or have special restrictions for operating a vehicle.
Chances are, if you have a senior loved one, this has been a topic of conversation, or you have at least thought about his or her safety behind the wheel.
If you have concerns about a senior in your life driving, consider a few things, and speak with them about driving. If the family agrees driving is still an option, take advantage of a few safety tips, which are listed below.
While everyone ages differently, and accidents on the road can be caused by anyone, some seniors suffer from health issues that make them more likely to be involved in accidents. A variety of risk factors cause crash rates to be higher among seniors. Sometimes, the accidents are caused by careless mistakes. Distractions can lead to running red lights and stop signs. People may also forget to yield as they are entering moving traffic. If your loved one is beginning to experience signs of dementia, driving may be one of the first places you notice his mental deterioration. Even if they seem as sharp as a tack otherwise, they may have a difficult time processing the information required to make quick decisions and may be overwhelmed by all of the actions happening at one time. Again, not all seniors will experience this problem. However, if you are responsible for the safety of a senior, it is an important consideration.
Another factor to consider when determining if your loved one should still be operating a motor vehicle is his likelihood to be seriously injured. While a minor fender-bender may cause little damage to a young person’s health, it could seriously injure a senior. A minor case of whiplash for a young adult could cause serious consequences for a senior. Seniors may also be more likely to break bones. Their recovery and healing time may be longer, and physical therapy could be necessary. Even if your loved one is a fairly good driver, you need to consider the consequences if he’s in an accident.
Vision and Hearing Problems
As we age, eyesight has a tendency to diminish, even for those otherwise in great health. Eyesight weakens, and those with lifelong perfect vision may find they occasionally need glasses for reading. This will be true when driving as well. Seniors need to be able to read road markings and street signs as well as anyone else. Hearing loss could impact safe driving as well. If a senior is unable to hear a siren, it could lead to a collision with an emergency vehicle.
If you have spoken with your senior and your family and decided that driving is still a safe activity, consider a few tips to continue to protect their well-being and the well-being of others:
• It is important for seniors to take their time when driving. While most people do not think of seniors being the speed demons of the road, they should still relax and take their time when behind the wheel.
• It is also important to avoid distractions. The difference between a safe and unsafe driver may be their ability to focus. Seniors need to concentrate on the road as much as other drivers. Since they have been driving for several decades, seniors sometimes think they can handle driving while doing other things.
• Avoid driving in harsh conditions like rain, snow, and ice.
• Avoid night driving, even if eyesight is fine during the day. The glare on oncoming headlights can be disorienting, making it difficult to see.
In some cases, driving assistance may only be needed on a temporary basis. If a senior has undergone surgery or has suffered an injury, he may not be able to drive for a few weeks. Even if their inability to drive is only temporary, there are organizations in Windsor and Essex county which offer services that can help seniors get where they need to go.