Most people who are accustomed to driving wish to continue driving as long as possible. Driving allows older individuals to socialize, run errands, as well as maintain relationships and independence.
But at what point does driving become unsafe for older drivers?
Adult children and loved ones are commonly concerned about a senior driver’s safety.
It is important to remember that there is no “cut-off age” to safe driving. In fact, according to AARP, drivers over the age of 65 are generally safe drivers. They get into fewer crashes than younger drivers and they wear their seat belts more often than drivers in other age groups.
However, with advancing age comes a decline in motor skills and reaction time, changes to vision and hearing, and other physical changes that can affect driving.
What can concerned family members and friends do to keep a loved one safe? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Driving habits: Monitor the driver’s driving habits. How far from home does he or she typically drive? How often is driving done after dark? Is the driving done in a high traffic area? Driving in a rural area is certainly much different than driving in a city.
- Driver behavior: Does your loved one express concerns about driving? Is he or she a confident or nervous driver?
- Encourage seat belt use: One in five older drivers do not wear a seat belt. It is important to encourage your loved one to wear a seat belt both when driving and as a passenger.
- Pay attention to medical conditions and medications: A medical condition (such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, etc.) can drastically change an individual’s ability to drive safely. Medications can also impact driver safety. Pay attention to your loved one’s health. When new medications are taken, make sure side effects are closely monitored.
Driving affects everyone with whom we share the road. It is important for all drivers, young and old, to drive safely and responsibly. Sometimes, concerned loved ones must step in to help ensure that happens.