Older people age at different rates. While some drivers are as safe at 80 as they were at 40, others might consider giving up driving by 70. Driving is a complex task and countless factors affect an older person’s safety behind the wheel. Requiring many systems, both physical and mental, a person should be able to handle the quickly changing conditions of the road.

Financial liability and the safety of elder drivers can be a serious concern. In some cases, driving assistance may be needed, if only on a temporary basis. If a senior has undergone surgery or has suffered an injury, he may not be able to drive for a few weeks. Even if their inability to drive is only temporary, a reputable In-Home Care agency can provide assistance to help get seniors where they need to go safely.

How will you know when it’s no longer safe for a senior to be driving? See below for some helpful safety tips.

What are the risk factors?

While everyone ages differently, and accidents on the road can be caused by anyone, some seniors suffer from health issues that make them more likely to be involved in accidents. A variety of risk factors cause crash rates to be higher among seniors.

Sometimes, the accidents are caused by careless mistakes. Distractions can lead to running red lights and stop signs. People may also forget to yield as they are entering moving traffic. If a senior is beginning to experience signs of dementia, driving may be one of the first places you notice his mental deterioration. Even if they seem as sharp as a tack otherwise, they may have a difficult time processing the information required to make quick decisions and may be overwhelmed by all of the actions happening at one time.

Injury prone

Another factor to consider when determining if a senior should still be operating a motor vehicle is his likelihood to be seriously injured. While a minor fender-bender may cause little damage to a young person’s health, it could seriously injure a senior. A minor case of whiplash for a young adult could cause serious consequences for a senior. Seniors may also be more likely to break bones. Their recovery and healing time may be longer, and physical therapy could be necessary. Even if your loved one is a fairly good driver, you need to consider the consequences if he’s in an accident.

Vision and hearing problems

As we age, eyesight has a tendency to diminish, even for those otherwise in great health. Eyesight weakens, and those with lifelong perfect vision may find they occasionally need glasses for reading. This will be true when driving as well. Seniors need to be able to read road markings and street signs as well as anyone else. Hearing loss could impact safe driving as well. If a senior is unable to hear a siren, it could lead to a collision with an emergency vehicle.

If you have spoken with your senior and your family and decided that driving is still a safe activity, consider a few tips to continue to protect their well-being and the well-being of others:

It is important for seniors to take their time when driving. While most people do not think of seniors being the speed demons of the road, they should still relax and take their time when behind the wheel.
It is also important to avoid distractions. The difference between a safe and unsafe driver may be their ability to focus. Seniors need to concentrate on the road as much as other drivers. Since they have been driving for several decades, seniors sometimes think they can handle driving while doing other things.
Avoid driving in harsh conditions like rain, snow, and ice.

Avoid night driving, even if eyesight is fine during the day. The glare on oncoming headlights can be disorienting, making it difficult to see.

Everyone ages differently, so there is no arbitrary cutoff as to when someone should stop driving. Read this informative article about how aging affects driving:

Seniors Driving

Safety Tips, Warning Signs, and Knowing When to Stop

3 Comments on Seniors Behind the Wheel, What are the Options?

  1. Linda Berger says:

    Is it true that no company will cover a person over 94 years of age for car insurance? Is there an age cut off for car insurance?

  2. The word I have from our insurance agent is that the company can pose additional safety tests on the over 90 driver, but not deny strictly on age.

  3. Those laws may vary from state to state