Post by Will Hemner
Being able to drive and having the freedom to go shopping or visit friends is incredibly important for a vast number of elderly people. However, in recent times, accidents involving older drivers have become more frequent, with concerns over safety for other road users becoming a big issue.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents revealed that in 2010, 154 drivers over the age of 60 years were killed in road accidents, with 1,108 seriously injured and 9,423 suffering minor wounds. Although casualty numbers are decreasing across every age group, the rate in which they’re falling is slower for older people.
If you’re worried about a loved one or have concerns over your own ability to drive safely, it is important to consider the follow issues.
How ageing affects driving
Health issues increase as we get older, and these problems can affect our ability to drive. Some of the main concerns include the following:
· Neck and back pain – this can limit a driver’s ability to look over his or her shoulder to park, change lanes on the motorway or check the car’s blind spot for other road users as well as pedestrians.
· Leg pain – this can limit movement between pedals in a scenario that requires quick reactions.
· Weaker muscles – this can also have an impact on accelerating and braking as well as the means to operate the steering wheel quickly and effectively.
· Reaction times – responding to a situation on the road and taking appropriate action can be slower for an older driver. Identifying potential problems including allowing emergency vehicles to pass may also be affected.
· Fatigue – falling asleep at the wheel is a problem for any driver; however, the elderly can be more susceptible to fatigue while driving.
· Frailty – if an older person with weaker bones is involved in a serious accident, the recovery time could be much longer compared to a younger individual.
Failing to identify any of these problems could result in a critical or even fatal incident. However if you are the victim, you may be able to make a car accident claim for compensation.
Tips for driving and alternative options
Taking the aforementioned issues into consideration, the following suggestions can help an elderly driver or provide a viable alternative to their current situation.
· Regular eye checks – if you require glasses to drive, visiting an optician on a regular basis will ensure that you have the right prescription. The eye’s ability to focus on objects decreases over time, so even if you don’t wear glasses, it is a good idea to make an appointment anyway.
· Regular hearing checks – being able to listen out for potential hazards and dangers on the road is crucial.
· Get enough sleep – with fatigue being one major problem, ensuring you are well rested before any journey is important.
· Driving habits – if you feel uncomfortable driving at night or in a busy city centre, avoid these situations wherever possible. Before embarking on a major journey, you may want to find out whether there are any road works or diversions that could be potentially difficult to negotiate.
· Get advice – if you feel like you’re unable to drive to an acceptable standard, speak to the DVLA, a driving instructor or your doctor.