Seniors today are outliving the considerably safe age to drive around by almost 10 years. If you are over the age of 40 and have a parent who is still driving around it could be soon that you will have to talk with them about handing over the keys.
According to AAA, elderly drivers are actually safe drivers. They avoid risks such as driving in the dark, drinking and driving, bad weather, or heavy traffic times. They tend to always wear their seat belts and drive slower than others. However, AAA says that if they are involved in a crash or injury they are more likely to have serious damage or life threatening injuries due to fragile bones. At this age they also have conditions such as heart disease and diabetes that make recovering from a crash harder.
A recent study in the Journal Traffic Injury Prevention, “intersection crashes accounted for about one-half of the fatalities in accidents among drivers 85 and older. The study found that when drivers 70 to 79 were involved in intersection collisions they tended to misjudge whether it was safe to proceed. Those 80 and over simply failed to see the other car.” Age is not a huge factor in whether or not a person should drive, but we should pay attention to their health risks and driving skills.
The National Institute on Aging gives us a list of issues to watch out for:
- Multiple vehicle crashes, “near misses,” and/or new dents in the car
- Two or more traffic tickets or warnings within the last 2 years; increases in car insurance premiums because of driving issues
- Comments from neighbors or friends about driving
- Anxiety about driving at night
- Health issues that might affect driving ability, including problems with vision, hearing, and/or movement including early memory loss
- Complaints about the speed, sudden lane changes, or actions of other drivers
- Recommendations from a doctor to modify driving habits or quit driving entirely
It’s important to be aware of your parents driving and to watch for signs. If they are having a hard time with letting go of their keys they may want to go to a doctor to discuss. The key is to make sure everyone is safe.