In 2018 there was a 60% increase in the number of elderly drivers on the roadways since 2000. While this might seem like an insignificant statistic, the truth is that older drivers (65+) are at an increased risk of being involved in a fatal crash. In 2018, nearly 7,700 seniors (aged 65+) were killed in car crashes throughout the United States, and another 250,000 were treated in emergency departments for car crash-related injuries. This breaks down to more than 20 adults killed every single day, and other 700 injured.
How to Have a Conversation with Your Elderly Loved One About Driving
While most seniors feel like taking their driving away is a loss of freedom, is your elderly loved one has been in a few car accidents lately or had a close call, them it might be time to have a conversation with them about handing over their car keys. Even if your loved one has not had any accidents, it might still be a good idea to discuss their options moving forward. We know that these conversations are not easy ones to have, but necessary. Our Citrus County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton strongly encourage you to have these discussions in order to keep everyone in your household safe. It is best to not be confrontational in these situations and use “I” rather than “You” when expressing what you think is best.
Elderly drivers often experience new aches and pains, vision loss, and delayed reaction times, all of which can negatively impact their ability to operate a vehicle safely. There are a few good ways to avoid some of the most common problems associated with elderly drivers, such as:
- If your elderly driver is having problem with their vision, then it may be an option to only have then drive during the daytime when all weather conditions are clear.
- If your elderly driver has expressed having anxiety during rush hour traffic times, then help them adjust their schedule so that they avoid peak traffic times.
- If your elderly driver is having memory problems and forgets where they are going when driving, then they may need to drive only if they have a buddy riding shotgun who can take over the wheel if need be.
- If your elderly driver can no longer get in and out of their car safely or without pain, then they may need swivel or swing-out parts that can assist them in getting in and out of their car easier. There are many devices that you can buy and install that can help with this.
- If your elderly driver is having problems moving their head or turning their neck when driving, then they may need an additional backup mirror or wider mirrors.
Discuss Ways to Stay Active Without Having a Car
If you have decided that your elderly driver needs to have their keys taken away, then encourage them to remain active. Older adults that can no longer drive might begin to suffer from depression or isolation, so come up with some alternative ideas to help them keep up with their normal routine:
- Call on neighbors, friends, or other family members to help shuttle your loved one to their frequented places, like the coffee shop, grocery store, or a friend’s house.
- You can introduce your loved one to public transportation, like buses.
- Another option for non-drivers is to use a rideshare app to schedule a ride when they need one. Uber and Lyft can be great alternatives to driving yourself.
Review Safe Driving Strategies with Your Elderly Driver
All of us on the road, not only elderly drivers, should implement safe driving habits to keep everyone safe in the event of an accident. Some of these safe driving habits include:
- Wearing your seatbelt at all times. If your seatbelt is uncomfortable then adjust the shoulder mount or pad. Do not drive any distance without buckling up properly.
- Limit your distractions. Put phones and other devices away before travelling anywhere.
- Keep a safe distance between your car and others on the roadway at all times.
- Driving during daylight hours is always best, especially for elderly drivers with some vision impairment. Many have difficulty seeing at night and the glare of headlights can only make vision problems worse.
- Inclement weather like snow, fog, rain, or snow can be dangerous for all drivers. Elderly drivers should wait for weather conditions to improve before heading out.
- Elderly drivers should avoid busy highways as merging can be difficult and busier highways mean more drivers, which can increase their stress levels and quickly lead to them becoming overwhelmed and at an increase of being involved in a car crash.
- Elderly drivers often take a lot of medications. Some prescription pills come with recommendations to not drive when under their influence, but others do not. Review and read all medications your elderly driver may take and ask the pharmacist if you are unsure of whether it is safe for your loved one to drive while taking them.