Advancing age impacts all of our lives in profound ways. As we get older, there are unique considerations and changes that we must account for. It is no secret that as we age, we are more likely to experience a decline in things like vision and hearing. Our motor skills may be more limited. Our reaction times may be slower. These are all things that can impact many areas of our lives, including driving. Yes, there are certain driver safety issues that can center around the senior population. Sometimes, the limitations we experience as we get older can mean that it is time to stop driving. Other times, we can keep driving but must make certain allowances in order to keep ourselves and others safer on the roads. Talking about senior driver safety issues is an important part of addressing and avoiding potentially dangerous situations that may arise on the road.
Senior Driver Safety Issues
With more senior drivers on the roads than ever before, discussing senior driver safety issues is becoming an increasingly more important thing to do. The older portion of the population is growing and people are driving longer into their advanced years. We all need to be frank in how we talk and tackle safety issues relating to senior drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that drivers aged 70 and older are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than middle-aged drivers. Clearly, the safety issues associated with senior drivers are putting them at fatal risk. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to help reduce this risk.
Many older drivers acknowledge the restrictions imposed upon them by the general nature of aging and choose to limit their driving. Some choose only to make shorter trips in the car. Others choose not to drive at night or avoid driving in inclement weather such as snow or rain. By taking shorter trips and avoiding challenging driving conditions, these seniors are working to keep themselves and others on the road safe while retaining the ability to continue driving.
A significant portion of seniors are also taking medications, both over the counter or prescription. Many medications can impair a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. In fact, the labels on many common medications instruct that anyone taking such medication should avoid operating heavy machinery. By taking heed of such warnings and restrictions, seniors can avoid dangerous driving situations. This, of course, goes for anyone who is taking medications with side effects that could impair driving ability.
Studies have also shown that modern vehicle safety features are effective at keeping seniors safer on the roads, according to the IIHS. In fact, the IIHS reports that side airbags with head and torso protection have reduced fatalities in front seat vehicle occupants ages 70 and older by an estimated 45%! Other safety features include rearview cameras and rear parking sensors. These new safety features have been proven to be effective in helping older drivers avoid backing crashes.
Seat belts have also proven effective at keeping older vehicle occupants safer in the event of a crash. Modern safety belts, however, have been found to be much more effective than older models. The same is true of frontal airbags. This is all to say that older individuals are more likely to stay safe in vehicles with modern safety features. This, however, is not always an option. Sometimes, older vehicles can be retrofitted with modern seatbelts and this option can be explored by contacting the vehicle manufacturer.