As a person ages, he or she may experience changes to body and brain that
reduce flexibility, result in longer reaction times, and result in reduced
cognitive function. Senior citizens who experience the natural effects
of aging will eventually become unable to drive as a result of new limitations
on their health.
Strict laws designed to keep dangerous older drivers off the road can help prevent
motor vehicle accidents caused by elderly drivers. However, people age at different rates and
it is also important for an individual senior or his or her family members
to determine when it has become unsafe for someone to drive.
Senior Citizens Can Be Dangerous Drivers
Seniors generally tend to support laws, such as texting bans, that are
designed to make the roads safer.
Recent studies suggest that older Americans will support laws to improve road conditions
even if those laws may limit their personal ability to drive. For example,
as many as seven out of 10 seniors said they supported laws that required
in-person renewals for people 75 and older who wanted to get a driver’s
license. Many of the seniors in the survey, who were 65 and up, also said
that they believed that people should be required to undergo a medical
exam if they wanted to renew a license if they were 75 and up.
Lack of Mobility for Seniors Who Choose Not to Drive
Although seniors believe, in general, that older people should get off
the roads once they can’t drive safely, it is a lot harder for an
individual to make the choice to sacrifice their own mobility. As a result,
family members and medical professionals should be watchful of when a
person cannot continue to safely drive.
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, held from December 1 through December 5 each year, is intended to encourage
family members and other relatives and friends to take the time to discuss
senior driving safety issues with the older people in their lives. It
is suggested to take the following actions during Older Driver Safety
Awareness Week, or at any time during the year, to help elderly loved
ones evaluate their ability to drive safely:
- Talk to senior family members in a family conference to discuss driving
- Evaluate the types of limitations and physical changes that can make it
difficult or impossible for a senior to continue to drive safely
- Explore the possibility of using adaptive devices to extend the amount
of time that a senior drives before it becomes unsafe to do so
- Have a screening done by a qualified medical professional to determine
if the senior is still safe to drive or has any limitations that could
lead to a collision
- Create a plan for the future, which will allow a senior to continue to
get around when needed, even after driving becomes an impossibility
There is no better time than the present to address driving safety issues
with older friends or family members. Taking action to prevent senior
citizens from driving when it is not safe could potentially save the lives
of your elderly loved one, as well as others on the road.