Keeping Older Drivers Safe

This past week was an awareness week for older drivers with the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there were more than 42 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in 2016, representing a 56 percent increase from 1999” (PENN Medicine).

Many drivers are safe on the road into their 80’s and sometimes beyond. However, it’s important to note that there are physical changes that come with age. These changes can include a decline in eyesight, or the start of a tremor which could interfere with driving. These drivers and their loved ones need to pay attention to these things to be sure they can continue driving safely.

Another thing to keep in mind is that older people take more medications some of which can impair the driver or decrease awareness.  

Questions to ask older drivers

Here is a list of questions by NHTSA to ask yourself or your elderly loved one to find out if they are still able to safely be on the road:

  • Are they getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
  • Have you noticed new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
  • Have they received a ticket for a driving violation?
  • Are they overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
  • Have they experienced a near-miss or crash recently?
  • Have they been advised to limit/stop driving due to a health reason?
  • Are they taking any medication that might affect driving safely?
  • Have they received a ticket for impaired driving?
  • Have you noticed them speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
  • Are they suffering from any illnesses that may affect driving skill

Be sure to be gentle in these conversations as driving can be seen as a form of independence for a lot of these elderly drivers. 

There are fortunately technologies that can be used to assist those older drivers including: 

Adaptive vehicles: modifying a vehicle to accommodate these specific driver’s needs

Driver assistance technologies: New features in vehicles to reduce crashes and keep drivers and pedestrians safe. Some of these new features include collision warnings, back up cameras, automatic crash notifications, self parking and navigation assistance. 

These new adaptations are great for improving safety but shouldn’t be 100% relied on. If you’re an older driver or you have a loved one who is an older driver be sure they are still able to do so safely or start to talk about alternatives!

Contact: Glisson Law