Senior drivers are as much at risk as teenagers

Posted on January 27, 2014 by ECR Louisville in Blog, Caregiver Education

Why are senior drivers at risk?

As we age, our bodies and minds go through several changes. Vision and hearing tend to diminish and muscles and bones become weaker. Also, ability to react and focus attention on multiple tasks may diminish. All attributes and abilities of the mind and body are integral for operating a vehicle safely.  The effects of prescription drugs, even with labels that warn against taking a pill and driving  and or using other equipment, can and do create one of the greatest hazards to not only seniors but to anyone who finds it necessary to drive after taking legal or illegal  drugs VERY dangerous. That’s why I recommend that the NAP ALARM be purchased and used by everyone who drives under less than tolerable conditions.  I am not advocating the use of drugs or drinking before or during driving.  The NAP ALARM is for anyone who has ever felt drowsy while driving.  This is an innovative potentially life saving anti-drowsiness alarm.  Worn over the ear and has an electronic position sensor.  When your head nods foward, it sounds a loud alarm to instantly wake you and alert your passengers.

Under what circumstances are seniors more likely to be involved in a crash?

Since 1991, although overall fatality rates have remained stable, senior crash rates have increased. Research indicates seniors are involved in different types of crashes than the rest of the population. Specifically, seniors are over–represented in intersection crashes and may have difficulty making left turns. Other situations that may be particularly frustrating for senior drivers are driving during heavy traffic and at night.

In what ways do seniors have more difficulty than other drivers?

Seniors tend to have difficulty making left – hand turns, judging distance, seeing during night driving, driving during conditions that require quick reaction times and handling tasks that require divided attention.

Whose lives are affected by senior mobility?

Mobility for the senior members of our communities affects everyone. The crashes that involve seniors put all members of society at risk. What are some ways to determine whether it is safe for a senior to drive?

If a senior has experienced several near misses, has been involved several crashes or fender benders, or if other road users often honk their horns at the driver, it may be an indication he or she is not operating a vehicle safely. maintain their driving skills longer.

The American Medical Association’s Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers provides further information on assessing senior drivers.

Mature Drivers

Crowded highways … impatient drivers … road construction. There are times when driving is difficult for everyone.

But for older drivers, the road presents special challenges. Physical effects of aging can rob mature drivers of some of the skills needed to help them drive comfortably – and safely.

Effects of aging vary from person to person. But few older drivers have reflexes as sharp as those of a 25–year–old. Frequently mentioned descriptions of problems with older drivers include:

  • Maintaining proper speed or slowing unexpectedly.
  • Failing to check mirrors and other lanes.
  • Demonstrating uncertainty in unfamiliar areas.
  • Inability to make decisions and react as quickly as other drivers.
  • Having energy and physical freedom to cope with and resolve conflicts.
  • Recognizing new traffic signs, signals and road markings and adjusting to different traffic patterns and roadway designs.

But older drivers have one great advantage: experience. The longer you drive, the more you learn about what to do – and what not to do – on the road. What you lack in quick reflexes, you can make up in sound judgment.

The following are suggestions that can help mature motorists drive more safely and with increased confidence:

  • Physical problems that interfere with driving ability should be reported to your doctor. Hearing aids and eye glasses can help compensate for hearing loss or weakened vision.
  • A regular exercise program is one way to tune up your body and improve overall physical – and mental – fitness.
  • Carefully selecting driving routes also can improve performances on the highway. Older drivers should choose routes that provide ample lighting, well–marked streets, easy–to–read road signs and easy–to–reach parking places. Also look for roads less traveled – where traffic is light during off–peak hours.

About The Author:

Former Police Commissioner in Connecticut, Tony has made security a big part of his retirement years, starting a self defense product website that provides blogs about safety products and training.  His Tony says  is a compilation of knowledge about the subject.