It is always a tough subject when the conversation turns to aging drivers. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how they should be treated. But does aging make us less safe behind the wheel? Let’s take a look at some of the ways to identify aging drivers.
Stiff joints & muscles:
Arthritis, which is common among older adults, might affect your ability to drive. These changes can make it harder to turn your head to look back, turn the steering wheel quickly, or brake safely.
Your eyesight can change as you get older. It might be harder to see people, things, and movement outside your direct line of sight. It may take longer to read street or traffic signs or even recognize familiar places. At night, you may have trouble seeing things clearly – glare from oncoming headlights or streetlights can be a problem.
As you age, your hearing can change, making it harder to notice horns, sirens, or even noises coming from your own car. Hearing loss can be a problem because these sounds warn you when you may need to pull over or get out of the way.
Slower reaction times & reflexes:
You might find that your reflexes get slower, and it is harder to do two things at once. Stiff joints or weak muscles can make moving quickly difficult but losing feeling in fingers and feet could also mean trouble with steering too! Parkinson’s disease is another possibility if you experience shaking while walking which makes driving impossible for many people living this life-changing diagnosis.
Have you ever taken a medication that makes you feel drowsy, light-headed, or less alert than usual? If so, it might be wise to pay attention when driving. Many medications have side effects which can make driving unsafe even if they seem like safe drugs in general – but this is something every patient should know about themselves before getting behind the wheel.
If you’re concerned about an aging family member or friend driving, there are ways to tell if they still have the necessary skills. You can observe their driving habits and monitor how safe it seems for them on the roads at all times of day with different weather conditions present such as sun, rain or snowfall.
As you can see, when we age, factors such as decreased vision, impaired hearing, slower motor reflexes, and worsening health conditions can become a problem. Aging also tends to result in a reduction of strength, coordination, and flexibility, which can impact your ability to safely control a car.
For more information, the National Institute of Aging is a great resource on this topic: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/older-drivers