There are many older drivers on the road today and, unfortunately, aging can substantially reduce one’s ability to drive safely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 700 senior drivers are injured in motor vehicle accidents throughout the country every day. However, driving allows seniors to maintain some independence and gives them the chance to feel connected to their community.
The Difficulties of Driving as a Senior
It is normal for older drivers to deal with age-related symptoms, such as hearing problems and dulled reflexes. Additionally, senior drivers may suffer from certain chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and dementia, which can also make it difficult for them to drive safely.
Here are some of the most common risk factors senior drivers face:
- Health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, can impede a senior’s ability to drive.
- Vision impairment is common in older drivers and can increase the dangers of driving for seniors.
- Over a third of adults over the age of 65 deal with hearing impairment, which can affect an older person’s ability to hear horns, sirens, and other sounds that are necessary for safe driving.
- If your elderly loved one is on prescription medication, these may have some side effects that can make driving dangerous.
The Warning Signs
If you are unsure if your elderly loved one should continue to drive, there are some signs you can watch out for that may indicate driving is no longer safe for them.
Here are the warning signs of a dangerous senior driver:
- Damage to the car
- Changes in car insurance
- Traffic tickets
- Hesitation to drive
- Changes in driving behavior (forgetting to buckle up, tailgating, frequent complaints of getting lost)
If you are unsure if it is safe for your loved one to drive, there are certain experts you can turn to for help, such as the senior’s doctors. However, unless you have the senior’s permission, medical power of attorney, or they signed a HIPAA release, you may not be able to obtain the information you need if your loved one refuses to allow it. That said, you can still alert the physician of your concerns. You can also report your concerns to the DMV and, depending on their findings, they may restrict or revoke your loved one’s license.
Talking to Your Loved One
If you are worried about your elderly loved one’s ability to drive safely, have a discussion with them about it and let them know that you want them to be safe.
Here are some tips on how to delicately approach this conversation:
- Plan for it: Instead of trying to have this talk on the fly, plan for it and consider what you will say and which points you want to bring up. You may be worried about their safety, but they will likely be worried about their life-changing.
- Prepare to keep talking about it: Keep in mind that this may not be resolved in one conversation. However, putting it out there now may be the first step in making changes.
- Begin with curiosity: Do not go full steam ahead in this initial conversation. Instead, start a little more inquisitively and ask your loved one questions about how they feel behind the wheel and if they are comfortable.
- Talk about some alternatives: If you can determine the source of a problem, you can start talking about what to do next. Discuss other transportation options, such as carpooling with friends, ridesharing, or the bus.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today!
If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident, the legal team at Casey Law Offices, S.C. can assist you.
Call our law office today at (414) 272-5564 to schedule a free initial consultation!