The first week in December is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, and while the event has already passed, many themes remain relevant throughout the year. The importance of this week cannot be lost on us as we turn to the holiday season and may be able to have more time for important conversations with our aging loved ones. Have you made time not only to talk about driving, but to also go for a drive together?
Older Americans often rely on driving to meet their basic needs, but short of an accident how can family members know when aging drivers are no longer safe? It can be a tricky balance. On one hand, driving may be a lifeline to the grocery store, personal engagements, and health care appointments. On the other, unsafe driving is literally deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 older drivers are killed and 794 are injured in vehicle crashes, on average, every day. The reasons are mostly due to an increase in medical conditions involving medications, and declining vision, cognition, and physicality.
While there’s no set age when driving becomes a problem, there are many signs adult family members can identify beginning with traffic tickets and “near-misses.” Tickets are excellent predictors of accidents. Older drivers are typically law-abiding, so receiving two or more citations in a two-year period is considered evidence of being at-risk of a vehicle collision, according to AAA Senior Driving. Senior drivers who have been involved in two or more “near-misses” in the past two-years are also at an elevated risk of causing a serious accident.
Other warning signs can include confusing the gas and brake pedals or moving awkwardly between them, missing stops signs and traffic signals, weaving or driving outside of road lanes, and getting lost or disoriented in familiar areas. Are you witnessing this with your loved ones? Let us share several questions to consider asking while you are together:
- Do other drivers often honk at your senior relative or friend?
- Do cars or pedestrians appear out of nowhere to them?
- Are they easily distracted while driving?
- Have others expressed worry about them?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may want to consider taking action. Talk with your elder loved ones about their driving. If they are willing, consider talking to their doctor about your concerns. Also, do not wait to schedule a meeting with our firm to talk to us about your concerns and how we can work together to create an elder care plan that can support everyone involved.