Safe Driving For Seniors

By G. L. Odenheimer, MD; USC School of Medicine

Almost all folks have experienced a close call with another car, a person walking, or an object when driving. Many people have likewise had car accidents. How do older adults and caregivers recognize when these circumstances are cause for concern?

How old is too old to drive?

People can be excellent drivers or awful drivers at virtually any age. Normally, youthful, new drivers are inclined to possess the worst driving records. Experienced, middle-aged drivers are likely to have the best driving records. Overall, elderly drivers make appropriate alterations for their capabilities and constraints and are pretty safe too. In actuality, the total amount of accidents that involve older drivers is lower than for every other age group. amount, the number of accidents per mile driven goes up close to age sixty, and gets considerably higher following 75. By the age of 85, the risk surpasses that of the teenaged driver. In fact, accidents are the number 1 cause of injury-linked loss of life in folks between 65 and 75.

It is essential to acknowledge that old age alone does not lead to elevated accidents! But old age is frequently linked with health problems and medications that can increase possibility of crashes. A lot of elderly adults require multiple medicines and have conditions that increase the danger of detrimental driving such as: Alzheimer's disease, eyesight troubles, stroke, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

What are some signs of unsafe driving?

Indicators include: Merging or changing lanes without looking;
Trouble staying in the lane;
Turning from the wrong lane;
Becoming lost in familiar places;
Stopping at a green light;
Stopping when there is no sign to stop;
Stopping in the middle of intersections;
Mistaking the gas pedal for the brake pedal;
Finding traffic signs and signals perplexing;
Running stop signs or red lights without having realized it;
Hitting or nearly hitting automobiles, individuals or physical objects without noticing it;
and
Moving from one lane to another without looking.

What can people do to be better drivers?

Although the possibility of crashes and serious crash-related incidents usually goes up as folks get older, there are many steps that can be taken at just about any age to drive more safely.

Steps consist of:

Steer clear of driving at nighttime, in heavy traffic, and on unfamiliar highways;
Understand the rules of the road. They can be found in a state driver's manual;
Take a driving class from a driving instructor or a rehabilitation specialist; and
Take a refresher program provided by organizations such as:

AARP (formally known as the American Association of Retired Persons); The Automobile Association of America (AAA);
or
The National Safety Council

Who can help find out if driving skills are a challenge?

Rehab Centers (e. g., Vocational Rehabilitation Centers, Veterans Administration Facilities) usually provide the most effective driving assessments. Driving schools could help, but remember that they are not qualified to recognize or diagnose health-related challenges. State licensing agencies also provide driving evaluations.

How can a health care provider help deal with concerns about driving?

It is extremely important that the physician or other health care supplier cares and listens carefully to concerns about driving capacity. Once the concern is discussed, a thorough medical and medication review should be conducted. This will help determine if there are curable problems that may perhaps be contributing to driving issues. Vision and memory assessments are essential. Lastly, the physician or health care service provider may possibly be able to suggest a driver's education/refresher class. A person may also be referred to a driving assessment course.

What exactly can caregivers do if they are troubled about a loved one's driving?

This could be the hardest challenge that caregivers face as an elderly person develops ailments that make them unfit to drive. It is important to recognize how important driving is to many older individuals. It permits them to go exactly where they want. It is also a mark of independence. Caregivers will need to be quite clear with regards to the precise difficulties that they have observed. Caregivers can look to health care providers for support. Doctors and various other health care providers can help find out if there is a mental or physical issue that restricts driving capabilities.

Your health care supplier can assist the caregiver who is troubled about a loved one's driving. They may possibly write a prescription, indicating that an older person should not drive. They could also send a report to the state driver's licensing bureau. Many states reply to reviews only when they come from a health care provider, or the police.

What are some sources for more details?

Frequently, neighborhood aging centers and organizations are the best resource for info about local transport programs.

For additional information on driver evaluation, driver instruction, travel choices, facts about elderly drivers, medical circumstances and the laws in each state contact:

American Occupational Therapy Association [301-652-2682]
www.aota.org/olderdriver
Outstanding standard information, self evaluation and essential links

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1-888-327-4236]
http://www.nhtsa.gov/
Has fliers in relation to many healthcare conditions that affect driving

Association for Driver Educators for the Disabled: [1-608-884-8833]
http://www.driver-ed.org
Helps you find a qualified driver evaluator in your community.

Alzheimer's Association: [1-800-272-3900]
http://www.alz. org/Care/
Offers sensible assistance for caregivers

American Medical Association [1-800-621-8335]
http://www.ama-assn.org/
This is the Medical doctors Guide to Evaluating and Counseling Older Drivers

American Automobile Association Foundation [1-202-638-5944]
http://www.seniordrivers.org/
Informs you where to get a home evaluation for driving

AARP: [1-800-424-3410]
http://www.aarp.org/research/
Reviews policy and survey details

National Safety Council: [1-800-621-7619]
http://www.nsc.org
Provides summaries of studies and hyperlinks to their education program.

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators [703-522-4200] http://www.aamva.org/drivers/
This is the group that has a bearing on the state licensing regulations and describes the role for the healthcare advisory panels in each state

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
http://www.highwaysafety.org/
Offers the latest details on every state's licensing policies.

 

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