Loss of driving privileges can be a big loss and a major blow to a person’s independence. It limits his ability to perform tasks that he would otherwise have handled for years, like shopping, working, maintaining social connections, etc. On the other hand, unsafe drivers can be a life-threatening danger to themselves and others.
As we age, our ability to drive safely may be limited by many factors. It is important to recognize these factors to minimize the possibility of an accident.
Forgetfulness, confusion, bad judgment, failure to follow the rules of the road, inability of drivers to see where they are going and aggressive driving are certain actions that lead to unsafe driving. Most of these changes are a normal part of aging.
Our eyes change as we become older, resulting in diminished ability to focus on objects, finer details, reduced peripheral vision, poor night vision or sensitivity to glare. Diminished vision does not mean one should stop driving, instead bring a change in behavior and timing such as limiting night driving or avoiding sunglasses during the day.
Loss of hearing is a common experience among older people. It can lead to being inattentive. Older adults can make use of hearing aid while driving.
Ability to react quickly and decisively to traffic conditions is critical to safe driving. Even though reaction time may be slow with old age, the driver can compensate by maintaining wider distance between cars.
Diseases like arthritis and heart diseases can affect one’s driving ability. Reduced physical strength may make it harder to control a vehicle. Medication can also lead to drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness or muscle relaxation.
There may be options for older adults to minimize their driving. They might like to consider using public transportation, car pooling to help avoid accidents and ensure safe driving.
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