Senior Driving Safety
Within the next two decades, the number of drivers over 70 years of age will triple in the United States. Many responsible older drivers will modify their driving habits, avoiding major highways and reducing nighttime driving when they can no longer perform these tasks well. That, however, does not reduce the number of accidents in this demographic. In fact, older drivers are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes.
Senior Driving Risks
The increased risk in driving becomes an issue around the age of 65. The risk increases over time, making older drivers much more susceptible to injury or death from car accidents. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 5% of all people injured in traffic crashes and 13% of all traffic fatalities are senior citizens. These accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including , drifting into other traffic lanes, poor judgment with left-hand turns, and a decrease in the ability to respond quickly to unexpected situations behind the wheel.
Senior Distracted Driving Solutions
Most of the solutions to the safety of senior citizens and driving come from prevention measures. In some states, tough, licensing requirements are imposed on those who either have been involved in a serious accident or numerous crashes within a set period of time. These drivers would need to be retesting before a new license can be issued. Other states are in the process of tightening licensing based on age, requiring road tests at regular intervals after reaching a certain age.
Pennsylvania is the only state that requires physicians to report any disability that may hinder someone's ability to drive, but this is also considered a good solution for preventing older drivers from causing injuries or fatalities due to a medical condition that may be out of their control.
There are many other solutions to this issue being proposed. A deficit screening could be given to drivers who are suspected of age-related decline that could impair driving. The tests could be administered by health professionals who can spot issues and either clear the person or refer them for additional tests before a license renewal.
Insurance companies can also take an active role in preventing high-risk drivers from being on the road when accidents are more likely to occur. With the help of the DMV and insurance companies, older drivers who are identified as having a specific accident pattern can be beneficial to determining whether the driver should continue to be licensed.
Family members can also spot erratic or distracted driving in senior citizens, simply by monitored their driving habits. Although the subject may be difficult to bring up, family members and friends of the elderly can help keep all other drivers and pedestrians safe by letting older drivers know when it is time they should stop driving. This can be determined by their driving pattern, the number of accidents they have had, and any medical conditions that may impair their ability to drive.
Medication for common medical conditions can also be a factor, even if the medical condition itself is not. Some medications may cause the driver to be drowsy or distracted without warning.
If it is determined that an older driver cannot drive in certain situations, such as nighttime or poor weather, or he simply cannot drive at all, it is important for friends and family to support the person who may feel like they are losing their independence.