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Expert Tips for Keeping Seniors Safe on the Road and Behind the Wheel

Older Adults in a Red car with a map

Driving Safety for Older Adults

According to the Administration on Aging, by 2030, the number of drivers age 85 and older will quadruple. While senior drivers get high marks for certain safety standards, such as wearing seat belts and sober driving, still 18% of all traffic fatalities are 65 or older. Driving is a form of independence and provides a vital connection to social and medical resources, so deciding when to give up the keys can be a difficult process.

Changes Influencing Seniors on the Road

It’s often hard for seniors to accept anyone has safety concerns about their driving. After all, they have many years of experience behind the wheel. Let them know it isn’t because they are “bad drivers.” Many age-related changes affect an older adult’s ability to drive as safely.

Senior Drivers Are Affected by Age-related Changes:Graphic of a blue car next to a stop sign -senior driver safety

  • Declining vision or hearing
  • Health conditions contributing to decreased reaction time, judgment, or attention
  • Poor posture
  • Muscle weakness when operating a steering wheel, brakes, etc.
  • Getting lost or confused due to memory loss
  • Impaired judgment and reaction times due to medications
  • Night-time driving exacerbates any of the above changes on seniors’ ability to drive safely.

(AARP)

Increasing Senior Driving Safety:

  • Increase senior safety on the road with these tips.
  • Maintain flexibility and strength by staying active
  • Make sure brakes, steering wheel, and seats function smoothly
  • Drive during the day and when visibility is good
  • Get regular vision and hearing checks
  • Install extra mirrors and other adaptations
  • Leave extra space between vehicles and drive below the speed limit
  • Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist effects medications may have on driving abilities

(National Institute on Aging)

Tough Conversations: Talking About Senior Driving Safety

Driving is often a sensitive topic for seniors. You can use these questions to get started having these important conversations:

  • Have you noticed any new scratches or dents on your car?
  • Has anything frightening happened on the road recently?
  • Do your medications affect how you feel when driving?
  • Are there any signs on your ride home that have been harder to spot?
  • What’s the best route to get between (choose two points they should be familiar with)?
  • Would it be helpful or more relaxing for you if you didn’t have to drive yourself?

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

 

MegaphoneHome Care Tip:

Seniors often struggle with the idea of driving less. Who can blame them? No one wants to lose their independence or rely on others for a ride. Have open discussions about the transportation options available to them. Many public and non-profit transportation providers offer discounted or free rides to seniors. Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) will have listings of providers near you. Caregivers by WholeCare offers non-emergent door-through-door transportation services throughout the Nashville area. You can easily reserve transportation through our website!

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