The older you get, the more precious your independence becomes. Physical, mental, and emotional ailments of all varieties come in and begin to pose limits on your way of life, including your ability to get around. While driving can help you feel more independent, it can also be dangerous for those who are starting to feel a little worn out.
Risks of Elderly Driving
According to the CDC, over 183,000 senior citizens were injured in vehicle accidents in the year of 2008. During this same year, over 5,500 were killed. Drivers over 80 years of age are particularly at risk for injury in a vehicle accident. This is due to a number of factors:
- Memory and cognitive issues: The ability to make split-second decisions is key to preventing accidents, but the mind tends to age with your body, making fast-paced thinking more difficult. Not only do cognitive issues inhibit quick decision-making, they can also make it harder to process the wide array of visual input involved in driving.
- Aches and stiffness: A stiff neck can make it harder to watch for vehicles behind you or at an intersection. Various aches and pains can also make it harder to react to changes in traffic or switch pedals when needed.
- Sensory limitations: Eyesight and hearing tend to diminish with age. This makes it more difficult to gauge distance, see road signs, or detect danger.
- Decreased strength and flexibility: In the event of an accident, physical strength and flexibility can reduce or prevent injury. With age, these often deteriorate, making an accident far more dangerous for an older adult than a younger one.
These various factors tend to decrease reaction time while driving, making it harder to respond appropriately to changes in traffic, unexpected movements, and dangerous situations. This makes it more likely to get involved in a fatal or injury-causing accident.
In many circumstances, driving can be dangerous for senior citizens, making it necessary to “retire” from driving. However, it doesn’t always have to be this way. There are a few things that can be done to make sure that you or a loved one is safer on the road:
- Get regular exercise to increase flexibility and strength
- Check eyesight regularly and use glasses or contacts as needed
- Plan ahead to drive during daylight hours and on the safest routes possible
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
- Review medications with a doctor to check for possible side effects
- Avoid distractions
- Get plenty of rest
In addition to these measures, certain auto safety technologies can help make up for decreased reaction time and prevent deadly accidents. The RD-140 system offered by Safe Drive Systems is one such technology that scans the road ahead of you and provides advance warning signals, allowing you to react in time to avoid a collision.
Ultimately, the decision to keep driving should be made on an individual basis. For more information on how our systems can help you or a loved one keep driving and maintain independence, contact Safe Drive Systems today.