Aging Drivers and Safety

This year, Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, gave up his driver’s license after getting into a car accident at age 97. When his news made headlines, it started many discussions about aging and driving safety. If you live in Hollywood or anywhere in South Florida, you may wonder whether you can continue to drive safely as you get older. Or, you may be worried about an older driver who seems to be struggling.

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While many older drivers continue to drive safely and while as a group seniors have a lower rate of accidents, statistically, than young adults in many studies, there is no doubt that some of the health concerns associated with getting older can negatively impact driving. Decreased mobility due to osteoporosis and other conditions or declining vision due to age can impact the ability to safely drive a car.

It can be difficult to tell when someone is no longer able to drive safely. If you notice an elderly loved one has many near-misses or fender benders, you may wish to have a conversation. Similarly, if a doctor decides an elderly patient can no longer operate a vehicle safely, it is important to listen to that input.

There are several things you can do to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe as drivers, even as seniors:

  • Maintain a good conversation with a family physician. A family physician can help diagnose any problems over time. If there are any symptoms which are worrying, a family doctor can order tests or can suggest treatment which can help a driver safe for longer.
  • Get regular exams. Annual hearing and vision exams as well as annual check-ups can help detect any problems before they become a problem on the road.
  • Check medications regularly. Some medications can cause sleepiness or other symptoms which can be dangerous for drivers. Always talk to pharmacists when getting new medication to ensure you understand how the medication can affect your ability to drive. Even when taking over-the-counter medication, make sure you understand the side effects and check with a pharmacist to avoid any interactions with other medications you may be taking.
  • Offer alternatives. Whether you have a loved one who is struggling or whether you yourself worry about your ability to operate a vehicle safely, look into volunteer drivers, ride share, and other options which may exist in your area. Hollywood and other parts of South Florida may seem car-dependent, but finding reasonable alternatives for getting around can make giving up keys easier when it is time to do so.
  • Adapt your car and driving habits. Seniors can use mirror extenders, power steering, seat adjustments, and other devices or changes to make their cars easier to handle, even with reduced mobility. If you or a loved one have a serious medical condition, you may want to consider working with driver rehabilitation specialists and occupational therapists to help adapt and train yourself to drive again.

If you have been injured by someone who was negligent, contact Flaxman Law Group at 1-866-352-9626 (1-866-FLAXMAN) to speak to a Hollywood car accident attorney in a free consultation.

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