Senior Citizens and Driving: Common Risk Factors

Senior Citizens and Driving: Common Risk Factors

Senior Woman With Nurse - auto collision center

As we age, our bodies change in ways that can affect our driving ability. These changes can increase our risk for crashes. But, there are ways older drivers can stay safe behind the wheel.

As your local Idaho Falls body shop, your safety is our number one priority. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some common risk factors for senior citizen drivers and offer some tips on how to stay safe on the road.

Common Risks

other drivers traffic safety to avoid motor vehicle crash

There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to motor vehicle crashes involving senior drivers. Some of these include:

  • Poor vision or hearing: As we age, it’s not uncommon for our vision or hearing to deteriorate. This can make it more difficult to see or hear other vehicles on the road, pedestrians or traffic signals. If you’re having trouble seeing or hearing while driving, be sure to visit your doctor for a checkup.
  • Medications: Many seniors take medications that can affect their ability to drive. Some medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness or slowed reflexes. If you’re taking medication, be sure to talk to your doctor about any potential side effects that could affect your ability to drive safely.
  • Slowed reflexes: As we age, our reflexes tend to slow down. This can make it more difficult to react quickly in a driving situation. If you find that your reflexes have slowed down, it may be best to limit your driving to daylight hours and avoid highways or other high-speed roads.
  • Chronic conditions: Conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes can all affect our ability to drive. If you have a chronic condition, be sure to talk to your doctor about how it could affect your driving and what you can do to stay safe on the road.

How to Talk to Your Senior Loved One About Safe Driving

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As our loved ones age, it’s only natural for us to start worrying about their safety on the road. After all, according to the CDC, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for adults over the age of 65.

While we may be hesitant to broach the subject of safe driving with our elderly relatives, it’s important to have a frank and open conversation about their capabilities behind the wheel. Here are a few tips on how to approach this sensitive topic.

  1. Schedule a time to talk: It’s important to set aside some time specifically for this conversation. This way, your loved one won’t feel ambushed and will be more likely to be receptive to what you have to say.
  2. Talk about your concerns: Be honest with your senior loved one about why you’re bringing up the subject of safe driving skills. Explain that you’re not trying to take away their independence, but that you just want to make sure they’re comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
  3. Suggest alternatives: If your loved one is reticent to give up driving altogether, there are other options you can suggest, such as hiring a driver or using public transportation. You can also offer to drive them yourself when necessary.
  4. Be patient and understanding: It’s important to remember that this is a difficult conversation for both of you. Try to be patient and understanding, and avoid getting into an argument with your loved one. Remember, they may be feeling scared or even angry about giving up driving, so it’s important to be respectful of their feelings.

Conclusion

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There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to crashes involving elderly drivers. By being aware of these risks and taking steps to mitigate them, older adults can continue driving safely well into their golden years.

Having a conversation with a senior loved one about safe driving can be difficult, but it’s important to have nonetheless. By following the above tips, you can ensure that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible and that your loved one feels respected and heard throughout the process.

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