For senior citizens, driving is a sign of continued independence, but it should never overshadow the importance of safe driving. Sometimes the normal aging process can affect an individual’s health and one’s ability to drive safely. These health changes can occur slowly over a period of time or sometimes they can be brought on suddenly. Either way, they need to be taken very seriously. Ignoring these signs can increase the risk of being involved in a car accident.
The aging process affects people differently at different points in their life. Because of this, senior drivers should not compare their driving ability to their peers, but should examine their own competence to be able to continue to drive safely. While changes in health do not necessarily mean that you need to stop driving, it can indicate a need for some adjustments in how you drive or possibly how often you drive.
There are several health issues for older adults that need to be taken seriously when it comes to driving.
Certain medications or combinations of medications can affect a person’s reflexes and senses. For people of any age, changes in medication can affect how one drives. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about medications that may have an affect on your driving capability. Check the label on any new medication to see how it may react to other medications you might already be taking and pay attention when starting any new medication to see how you respond to it.
Subtle changes in eyesight and hearing can influence driver safety. There are certain eye conditions that can negatively impact your peripheral vision or your ability to drive at night. Some mature drivers may notice an increased sensitivity to bright lights or a decrease in their depth perception. Pay attention to these subtle changes as they can alter your ability to drive safely. Being able to hear clearly also has a direct impact on safe driving. A decrease in your hearing capability could interfere with hearing emergency sirens approaching, reduce your ability to hear someone honking a horn to alert you of oncoming danger, or reduce your ability to hear and notice a car approaching you from behind on the highway. Be sure to have your hearing and eyesight checked annually.
The ability to respond quickly to other drivers on the road is important for road safety. Drivers of all ages must have quick reflexes while driving and be able to make split-second decisions when behind the wheel. Being able to brake suddenly or change lanes quickly is a necessary driving skill. As a senior driver, if you find yourself becoming confused behind the wheel or becoming flustered while driving, it might be necessary to adjust your driving practices.
Health problems don’t always indicate that an older individual needs to stop driving, but it does indicate a need for awareness, evaluation, and, sometimes, a willingness to make small changes in driving activity. Understanding personal limitations and how they impact your driving ability will help keep everyone safe on the road.
About the Author: Chris Guedri is an experienced personal injury lawyer in the Richmond, VA office of Allen & Allen. He has handled complicated car accident cases, tractor trailer accident cases, bus accident cases and defective product cases across Virginia and the United States. In a career spanning over 30 years, he has been recognized by his peers as a superb litigator, Chris has been listed in the book Best Lawyers in America since 1995. More recently, he was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, an organization of attorneys who are elected to membership based on their reputation for excellence. He has been included among “Legal Elite Best Lawyers in Virginia” by Virginia Business Magazine. ?