Senior Citizens Behind the Wheel: How to Know When to Take the Keys

Senior drivers draw concerns for other people on the road, because the risk of motor vehicle collisions increases as we age. Fatal crash rates start to drastically rise for seniors 70 years and older due to medical complications and other issues according to the CDC.

Let’s examine some potential handicaps to drivers that can impair their driving ability. Moraitakis & Kushel can help you navigate the dangers of driving. If you think any one of these conditions may impair the driving performance of a loved one, it may be time to talk about taking their keys for good.

Slower Reaction Time

Our reaction time tends to decrease as we grow older. Since superior reaction time is imperative to avoid accidents and pedestrians, seniors are at risk. A study conducted by the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention showed elderly drivers reduce their driving speed an average of twenty percent to accommodate their slower reaction times. Simulator tests exhibited that older drivers notice pedestrians and hazards significantly less that younger drivers.

Medication Complications

Senior citizens are commonly on several prescription medications at a time for various ailments. Many medications have adverse effects such as drowsiness, lightheadedness, and sluggishness. If senior drivers experience these conditions, their driving abilities can become dangerously compromised.

It’s important for seniors to talk to their doctor about safe driving habits and the specific effects of their medications.

Joint and Muscle Pain

Many older people start to gradually feel stiffness in their joints and muscles caused by natural deterioration. Arthritis or muscle spasms can impair safe driving practices in times of duress.

Doctors can recommend support braces and other solutions to help with these issues. It’s a good idea for older drivers to use an automatic transmission to avoid excessive movement of clutches and gear shifts. Also, they can select vehicles with superior power steering and brakes, and invest in a car with built-in alerts for outside vehicle activity.

Vision and Hearing Problems

Great eyesight is essential to see traffic signs, lights, and pedestrians. However, eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma can impair eyesight and make it difficult for seniors to drive in a safe manner. It’s important older drivers have their eyes checked by an optometrist every year and have an updated eye-glass prescription.

Similarly, adequate hearing is important for the awareness of cautionary honking, pedestrian activity, and sirens. Seniors with poor hearing are advised to see an otolaryngologist for an aid.

Have You Been Involved In a Collision Due to Unsafe Driving?

At Moraitaikis & Kushel, LLP our attorneys are well versed in medical malpractice, auto accidents, and nursing home abuse and neglect cases. If you or a loved one has been affected by a traffic accident involving a senior citizen behind the wheel, we may be able to help. Contact us for a free case consultation.