In the U.S., auto accidents are one of the most common causes of death. While studies show that senior citizens are no more likely to be involved in an auto accident than younger drivers, senior citizens are at a heightened risk for death in an auto accident. Unfortunately, many factors that accompany aging affect the safety of senior citizens on the road. By understanding these factors and knowing one’s limitations, senior citizens can ensure driving safety.
Senior Citizens & Driving Ability
As we age, our bodies change in a number of ways. These are some of the major age-related factors that can inhibit the driving abilities of senior citizens:
Declining Eyesight: With old age comes a decline in our eyesight. Senior citizens may find themselves unable to properly see road signs, pedestrians, or other vehicles.
Hearing Loss: Hearing loss is another consequence of old age. If you suffer from hearing loss, you could have difficulty with audible signs, such as honking horns.
Memory Loss: Many older adults suffer from memory loss as well as other cognitive issues. This can create problems when driving, due to slowed reaction times, an inability to focus, and difficulty remembering the rules of the road.
Prescription Medication: As we age, reliance on prescription medications increases. Many senior citizens are at risk for unsafe driving due to the side effects of and interactions between prescription medications.
Deteriorating Reflexes: Another aspect of old age is the deterioration of reflexes and motor skills. Stiffening muscles and aching joints make it more difficult for senior citizens to maintain their range of motion, at times preventing them from reacting fast enough in the event of an emergency while driving.
Medical Emergencies: Finally, senior citizens are at a heightened risk for experiencing a medical emergency such as a stroke, seizure, or heart attack that could impair them on the road.
Best Practices for Older Drivers
Despite the risks described above, many senior citizens are able to drive safely. By following these best practices, you can ensure safety by knowing when it is time to stop driving.
Talk to Your Doctor: If you are an older adult, consult with your doctor about driving. He or she can discuss the potential side effects of medications and any illnesses or other concerns that may affect the ability to drive.
Get Eyes & Ears Checked: Seeing and hearing properly are critical to safe driving, which means that senior citizens should get their eyes and hearing checked annually.
Know Your Limitations: While losing the ability to drive may seem like a loss of independence, it is important that senior citizens be aware of their limitations when it comes to driving. Do not drive if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
Listen to Loved Ones: Finally, if your loved ones advise against driving, it is important to listen to their concerns, as they are only looking out for your safety.
If you have been affected by an auto accident, contact Ohio Injury Law today to learn how we can help.