We are all headed in the direction of becoming Senior Citizens, some of us closer than others! In the United States, there are more than 28 million drivers 65 and over. This figure is expected to surpass 40 million by the year 2020. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, over 191,000 senior drivers were involved in crashes in 2005. With the exception of teenagers, drivers 75 years and older have the highest crash death rate per mile driven. One of the contributing factors is that frailty comes with aging.
The following situations may bring to mind either your experiences or those of someone you know, and if so, should you consider other alternatives?
- Difficulty with turn signals, foot pedals, or wipers;
- Problems with decision-making abilities;
- Has experienced several near-misses;
- Loses sense of where they are, becomes distracted;
- Slower reflexes;
- Vision/hearing problems;
- Takes medications that can cause confusion, drowsiness;
While the above scenarios can apply to anyone behind the wheel, these are some examples of problems experienced by older drivers. Many voluntarily avoid driving at night, on busy highways, during rush hours, and in bad weather. It is a very sensitive issue, because seniors equate driving with self-esteem and independence. Probably one of the hardest things to do is taking car keys away from elderly parents; however, it may be one of the kindest things, in the long run.
If you have any doubts about your driving capabilities, or of someone you know and love, there are many resources that can help you with this important decision. Stay safe!