Tag Archives: senior drivers

It is understood that senior drivers have higher car accident rates and driver deaths but it turns out that not all states are created equal when it comes to senior driving fatalities. A survey* conducted by senior care resources company caring.com and released July, 2016  lists the top 10 most and least dangerous states in […]

senior-driverIn 2009, there were more than 33 million licensed drivers over the age of 65 in the United States and that number is likely to grow as our population ages. On average, 500 senior drivers are injured in car accidents every day. According to the NHTSA, “on the basis of estimated annual travel, the fatality rate for drivers 85 and over is nine times as high as the rate for drivers 25 through 69 years old.” In addition, older people made up 9 percent of the population in 1997 but accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 17 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.

Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase considerably after age 80. Although this is largely due to a higher susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers, age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning as well as physical changes do affect some seniors’ driving abilities.

Do Driving Skills Actually Decline with Age?

In general yes they do but declines don’t affect every senior personally. With that in mind, we cannot simply say that anyone over a certain age cannot drive.For those whose skills do decline towhere they are a danger to themselves and others, caregivers can expect a difficult situation. Many elderly drivers become defensive or even angry when they are told that they are no longer safe to drive. The decision may come down to their medical doctor or the department of licensing.

How Does Aging Affect the Abilities of Senior Drivers?

The physical and mental changes that come on as we age can diminish the abilities of senior drivers:

  • A slower response time
  • A decrease in vision and/or hearing skills
  • A loss of muscle strength and flexibility
  • Drowsiness due to medications
  • A reduction in the ability to focus or concentrate
  • Lower tolerance for alcohol

Tips for Elderly Adults to Stay Fit for the Road:

  • Exercise regularly to increase strength and flexibility.
  • Ask the doctor or pharmacist to review medicines (both prescription and over-the counter) to reduce side effects and interactions.
  • Get eye exams at least once a year. Wear glasses or corrective lenses if required.
  • Drive during daylight hours and in good weather.
  • Find the safest route with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn arrows, and easy parking.
  • Plan the route ahead of time.
  • Leave a large following distance behind the car in front of you.
  • Avoid distractions such as loud music.

The bottom line is that we should be compassionate to our parents’ desire to maintain independence through driving but equally aware of changes in their ability. If you believe that your elderly parent or patient is experiencing medical or other problems due to aging that could impair their ability to drive safely you should address the issue right away; involving their medical doctor if necessary.

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is two to three times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation!

senior-driverMost North Americans depend on cars to get us around; driving gives us independence and freedom. The problem is that as we age our motor skills, vision, and response times can deteriorate, making us a danger to ourselves and others. Many families agonize over the decision to take their parents’ car keys away and most are met with resistance. How do you know if your elderly parent is still safe to drive?

Signs of Elderly Driver Decline:

  • Drives either too fast or too slow for the road and traffic flow
  • Relies on passengers for line of site questions
  • Responds too slowly or doesn’t see bicyclists, pedestrians, or other drivers on the road
  • Ignores, disobeys or misunderstands traffic lights and street signs
  • Stops being able to gauge the distances between or approaching cars
  • Doesn’t yield to others that have the right of way
  • Seems drowsy, confused, or frightened, or easily angered or frustrated
  • Drifts across lanes or bumps into curbs
  • Forgets to turn on headlights after dusk
  • Seems to be having a lot of near accidents or is having car accidents
  • Lacks the strength to turn the wheel quickly in case of emergency
  • Gets lost on the road, even in familiar areas
  • Has difficulty maneuvering their neck, head, or shoulders while driving or parking
  • Experiences night blindness when glare from oncoming headlights or streetlights appears
  • Ignores needed mechanical repairs

If you can identify one or more of these issues in your elderly parent, suggest they be assessed by their medical doctor as they may be unfit to drive.

Caregivers Should Look at These Medical Issues:

  • Has the elderly person had a physical exam in the last year to test reflexes, vision, and hearing?
  • Have they been diagnosed with any medical illness that could affect their ability to drive?
  • Has a physician recommended that they stop driving?
  • Are they on any medications that could make them drowsy?
  • Have they reduced their alcohol intake to compensate for a decreasing tolerance?
  • Have they had a serious fall in the last year?
  • Do they have difficulty climbing a flight of stairs or walking more than a city block?

Easing into Decreased Driving Ability

Just because your elderly parent is experiencing declines in their abilities doesn’t mean that they have to give up driving all together:

  • Stop driving at night
  • Only drive in familiar areas
  • Avoid highways and rush hour traffic
  • Leave plenty of time to get to destination
  • Don’t drive alone

The AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) sponsors a program called the 55-Alive Mature Driver Program, which helps older people deal with issues such as compensating for vision problems associated with aging. And, the Association for Driver Rehabilitation offers referrals to specialists who teach people with disabilities, including aging drivers, how to improve their driving. Some states, including Washington, offer seniors a discount on car insurance in exchange for taking a safe driving course each year.

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is two to three times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation!