It is an uncomfortable truth that as drivers age, ensuring their safety on the road becomes an urgent priority. The CDC reports that drivers over the age of 70 have a higher rate of crash deaths than younger drivers.
A number of factors influence an elderly driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, including physical changes, medication, environmental influence and lack of regular practice.
Age-related physical changes
As people age, they may experience declines in vision, hearing, reaction time and cognitive function, which can make it more difficult for them to operate a vehicle safely. In addition, age-related medical conditions, such as arthritis, dementia and Parkinson’s disease can affect a person’s ability to drive.
Many older adults take multiple prescriptions for various health conditions. Some of these medications can have side effects that affect driving ability, such as drowsiness, blurred vision and impaired cognitive function.
Poor road conditions, inadequate lighting, confusing road signs and difficult weather conditions can make it more difficult for older drivers to navigate safely. Driving after dark is also a factor in collisions involving octogenarians.
Lack of regular practice
Some older adults may reduce their driving frequency as they age, which can lead to decreased confidence and skill in operating a vehicle. This can increase the risk of accidents, especially in unfamiliar or challenging driving conditions.
It is important for older drivers to be aware of these potential hazards and to seek regular evaluations of their driving ability to help ensure their continued safety on the road.