Every year in the United States, the first week of December is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. The ability to drive means so much more to our senior citizens than just the ability to easily get to the store. Driving allows people to have a sense of freedom and independence. When the ability to drive is taken away, an elderly person’s independence is taken away as well. Once that happens, they must rely on other people or public transportation. As they age, elderly drivers can experience issues such as weak eyesight, hearing issues, dementia, sleep disorders, and physical disabilities that may impact their driving. These challenges can increase the risk of a car accident.
Safety Tips for Older Drivers
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity to discuss ideas to help keep the elderly driver in your life safe and sound. Here are some easy safety tips that elderly drivers can implement and keep in mind to avoid car accidents.
Stay physically active. You might wonder what being physically active has to do with safe driving. For the elderly, it helps significantly. If you are physically active on a consistent basis, you are more flexible, stronger, you have better eye-hand coordination, and your concentration is better. All these things are necessary for safe and secure driving. You are also generally more alert and better able to turn your head and twist your body to look around you.
Have periodic vision and hearing tests. Elderly drivers should have at least a few yearly vision and hearing tests performed by their doctors. Although not being able to hear properly will not keep someone from driving, it is helpful to hear other vehicles as well as people using their horns. With poor vision, there is a significant increase in the risk of car accidents. Also, as people age, their ability to see at night diminishes. For many elderly drivers, it is difficult to drive at night owing to the glare from oncoming headlights and the glare reflecting off street signs. If this becomes an issue, your eye doctor can prescribe glasses that will lower the glare. Also, you may have to consider only driving during the day if your nighttime vision becomes weak.
Be aware of medication side effects. Elderly people tend to take more medications than any other age group. In some instances, prescribed medications can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Some medications can make you drowsy, nervous, anxious, jittery, spacey, nauseous, and experience several other symptoms. Any of these symptoms can affect your ability to drive safely. Make sure you understand how you react to your medications and monitor the symptoms. If possible, do not drive after taking a pill that might affect your ability to drive. Also, remember to talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist about switching medications if you are having issues.
Understand your limitations. When assessing whether you should be driving, be honest with yourself and your family and loved ones. The last thing you want to do is hurt yourself or hurt someone else on the road. If you drive fine during the day but have some trouble at night, try to limit your driving to daytime. If you have difficulty driving long distances, attempt to arrange other ways to get to your destination. If you often seem to forget where you are going or you cannot remember how to get to well-known establishments, have a discussion with your family and doctor about possibly not driving because of cognitive decline.
Drive during good conditions. You should drive not only when the roads are in good condition, but also when you are in good condition. Everyone, no matter how old they are, should try to limit driving during icy, sleeting, and snowy weather. If the roads are in rough shape, just do not go on them. Trying to drive somewhere is never more important than your health and the health and lives of other people using the roads. The same goes for your physical and mental condition. If you feel tired one day or under the weather, choose not to drive. Wait until you feel 100 percent before you get behind the wheel.
Avoid distractions. When most people think of distracted drivers, they think of teenagers and young motorists paying attention to their phones and not the road. However, elderly drivers can be distracted as well. There is no text or phone call or outside scenery that is more important than arriving at your destination safely and without injury.
Take a refresher course. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a refresher driving education course. In some areas of the country, there are driving courses designed specifically for elderly drivers. Taking a course such as this will sharpen your driving skills and allow you to get up to date on any new driving laws or traffic control signs. Also, a driving expert can discuss a plan for you to maintain your driving privileges while also keeping yourself and everyone else safe.
But even if you eventually must give up your car keys and stop driving, it is not the end of the world. Today, there are many alternatives to help the non-driving elderly to maintain their freedom and ability to get around easily. With public transit services exclusively used by the elderly that are inexpensive or even free, in many areas it is easy to get around. Also, with the ease of engaging with ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, the elderly should still be able to get where they need to go.
Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Help People Who Have Been Seriously Injured in Car and Truck Accidents
The Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman focus their practice on fighting for the rights of injured people. We want all our elderly friends, family members, and neighbors to get home safely. If you have been seriously injured by a negligent driver, let us use our skills, knowledge, and resources to get the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us at 856-751-2345 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Burlington County and surrounding areas.