Articles Posted in Elderly Drivers

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Seniors tend to be safer drivers in many ways, as they are less likely to speed when compared with other age groups, and may be less likely to drive drunk or engage in risky behaviors. Nevertheless, seniors also have higher risks of crashes when compared with other age groups, in part due to changes in road conditions and in part due to age-related conditions.

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Someone who has been driving since they were 16 and is now a senior has been driving for decades. The world, traffic, cars, and the pace of driving have all changed significantly in that time. In addition, seniors may be subject to age-related macular degeneration, vision problems, mobility issues, dementia, and other conditions which can negatively impact driving and which can be a higher risk with age.

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Driver rehabilitation professionals in Hollywood and across Florida help people with different abilities drive a car safely. If you have suffered a serious injury after a car accident in Hollywood or your community and now face a permanent injury such as an amputation, head injury, spinal cord injury, or any injury, driver rehabilitation can help you determine how you can get safely back to driving.

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Driver rehabilitation professionals are also essential in helping senior drivers drive safely, even as their physical condition changes. Senior drivers and other drivers who suffer from physical conditions such as arthritis, vision problems, and other mobility problems can work with rehabilitation professionals to find solutions to help them maintain independence.

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Elderly drivers have some habits that can help them avoid injury and car accidents. According to statistics, older drivers have more experience behind the wheel and are less likely to drink and drive than many younger drivers. In addition, senior drivers are statistically more likely to obey the speed limit and wear their seat belts.

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Unfortunately, senior drivers do face some challenges when driving. They can have a higher risk of car accidents when compared with other age groups. They are also more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in a car accident. Age-related conditions such as osteoporosis can mean more fractures and more serious fractures while other medical conditions can complicate car accident injuries.

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Elderly drivers can be safe behind the wheel, but senior drivers statistically have more accidents per mile driven than younger adult drivers. In fact, only teen drivers have more accidents per mile driven – and their accidents are less likely to be fatal when compared with crashes involving the elderly.

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If you have a loved one, you may worry that they’ll be in a car accident in Hollywood or their home community. You may realize that any health conditions they have may make it harder for them to recover quickly, and you may genuinely be worried about their welfare. But how can you have a conversation about driving skills and safety with a parent or other senior?

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Many elderly drivers are completely safe behind the wheel and are able to maintain their independence and drive safely for many years. In fact, some researchers argue that older drivers are safer than younger drivers because they take fewer risks, are statistically less likely to drink and drive, and may speed less often.

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Unfortunately, not all older drivers are safe on the road. As we get older, certain age-related conditions can affect our ability to drive. For example, macular degeneration and other vision problems can come with age and can affect the ability to see correctly enough to drive. In addition, cognitive skills may decline, especially with conditions such as dementia. Mobility issues can also be affected by age-related arthritis, osteoporosis, and other conditions. Even heart conditions can affect driving ability, especially if they put the driver risk of heart attacks. In addition, there are medications that some elderly Hollywood and Florida residents use for various conditions may make them dizzy, confused, or may otherwise affect their driving ability.

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, senior citizens across the country account for 17% of fatal pedestrian accidents and 14% of all traffic accident deaths, even though they amount to only 9% of the population. While some claim that elderly drivers are unsafe on the roads, though, many studies show that drivers under the age of 85 are in fact safer than teen drivers. However, according to Carnegie Mellon University researchers and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers 85 and over have four times the fatal accident rate of teen drivers.

The issue, most experts agree, is not age but rather cognitive function and physical ability. The problem is that all drivers age differently. Some may remain sharp and physically active well into their 80s and beyond – including staying safer behind the wheel – while other motorists may start to experience dementia and other dangerous conditions well before their 70th birthday. It becomes a huge challenge for law enforcement and legislators to find a way to prevent car accidents in Miami and other cities by keeping unsafe drivers off the road while not limiting the freedoms of safe drivers.

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In some cases, the decision to limit or take away one’s ability to drive is highly fraught. Families may want to prevent a loved one from being in a serious car or truck accident in Miami but may not be sure when to act. Or, they may not want to argue with a loved one and may hope that doctors or law enforcement make the decision about driving safety.

A big problem for families is that it is not just about driving and about preventing traffic accidents in Miami and Florida. It is about independence. Elderly loved ones who can no longer drive may have a harder time getting around and taking care of everyday tasks such as grocery shopping. They may face more isolation and a declining quality of life, which medical experts agree leads to declines in mental and physical health.

According to safety experts, there are a number of warning signs that families may need to step in and discuss hanging up the keys of an elderly driver:

•Signs of minor accidents, such as scrapes or dings on the car or an elderly loved one’s property
•Instances where an elderly driver has gotten lost, even in places they know
•Vision difficulties that make it hard to see the road signs, the road, and other vehicles
•A number of near-misses or minor accidents
•Difficulty estimating gaps in traffic at exit ramps and at intersections
•An elderly loved one getting confused while driving or experiencing road rage, causing aggressive driving or honking from other motorists
•Slow response times
•Difficulty using the gas and brake pedals – confusing the two, for example, or having a difficult time moving from one to the other
•Problems focusing on driving
•An elderly loved one getting multiple warnings or tickets from law enforcement
•Difficulty physically moving around to check blind spots
Of course, everyone has a bad experience driving or some difficulty once in a while, but if you notice one or more of these signs in yourself or a loved one, consider limiting driving and visiting a doctor and a driver-improvement or driving rehabilitation class. A doctor can help determine whether there are health barriers to safe driving while a qualified driver rehabilitation course can help a motorist drive more safely even with physical challenges.

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A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), based on 50 years of accident information, reveals that different age groups have different chances of surviving a car accident. If you are in a car accident in Miami or anywhere in Florida, these numbers could be significant:

•Female motorists between the ages of 21 to 30 have a 29.2 percent higher risk of being killed in a car accident than male motorists in the same age group involved in similar accidents.
•By age 70, women and men have the same risk of sustaining fatal injuries in a car collision.
•Female motorists between the ages of 65 and 74 have a 1.4 percent lower risk of being killed in a car collision when compared with male motorists in the same age group involved in similar accidents.
•The overall risk of female passengers and drivers being killed in a car accident in 17% higher when compared with male passengers and drivers in the same accident.
•The overall risk of being killed in a car accident increases with age. A 75-year-old male driver or passenger is four times more likely to die in a car accident when compared with a 21-year-old female in the same type of collision. A 75-year-old male driver or passenger is five times more likely to die in a car accident when compared with a 21-year-old male in the same accident.
•Between 1995 and 2002, the risk of sustaining fatalities in a car accident for all age groups decreased 42%.

According to the NHTSA, the numbers can be explained by physical differences over time and between men and women. Younger women, for example, are smaller than men, generally, of the same age. In a car accident, this can mean that women are more likely to be thrown from the car and more likely to sustain life-threatening head injuries in Miami or their community. For older drivers, female drivers and passengers have a slightly lower fatality rate, according to the NHTSA, because women in their later years tend to be healthier, on average, than their male counterparts. Across all age groups, car accident fatalities have declined in part due to more universal seat belt use and car safety improvements.

Of course, age alone does not determine one’s ability to survive a traffic accident in Miami or any community. There are many things that individuals can do at any age to increase their chances of surviving a car or truck accident in Miami or their community. For example, wearing a seat belt and getting proper driver training can reduce the risk of serious injury. Following the rules of the road and driving carefully can also reduce the risk of being in a car collision in the first place. Motorists at all age groups can also take care of their physical fitness and their health to improve their chances of surviving an accident.

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This past month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted an online request seeking comments about a rating system for older customers. The suggested “Silver Car Rating System for Older Occupants” would be part of the NHTSA New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and would help older customers look at safety information about new cars. The rating system would address issues of car performance that are not evaluated by the NCAP under current guidelines – issues that could affect older drivers and passengers.

The NHTSA asked the public whether there “Are there aspects of vehicle performance, currently not evaluated by NCAP that would particularly address the needs of older vehicle occupants?” Depending on the responses received, the NHTSA may change their NCAP system to address the needs of older car buyers.

The AARP reports that 16% of drivers on the country’s roads are 65 or older and by 2025 one in five drivers in the US will fall into that age category. Currently, elderly drivers have the highest fatality rates in car accidents.
Experts agree that seniors may face a number of issues that specific issues that could be addressed by specific car features:

1) Adjustable gas and brake pedals and telescoping steering columns are useful for drivers who are shorter or have mobility issues. Mobility issues among elderly drivers may cause car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other communities, according to experts. The elderly are also more prone to osteoporosis and other illnesses which can affect height. However, many cars are made for taller drivers and may not always provide the correct adjustment’s for drivers who are under 5’3”. Making more customizable steering columns and pedals would help, some experts believe.

2) Automatic seatbelts, easy-to-grasp steering wheels, pushbutton start systems, and thick steering wheels are good features for drivers who suffer from arthritis and for those with mobility issues. Features such as these would make it easier to use safety systems and to operate a car safely, potentially reducing the risk of traffic accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other communities.

3) Larger writing on the dashboard and other systems is useful for those with vision problems. Unfortunately, current car designs feature more and more useful dials and features on the dash. In many cases, this means that each individual button and components needs to be smaller so that all the features can fit. Sleeker car designs also tend to favor smaller buttons and labels on the dash. This can make it harder for elderly and vision-impaired drivers to see everything on the dashboard, especially at night. Enhancing the visibility of the dashboard features can potentially help reduce car and truck accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other communities. Ensuring that the lights on a dashboard are easily adjustable (to reduce glare during night time driving) can also be a useful design feature.

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According to statistics, seniors in Florida will make up 27% of the state’s population by the year 2030, making it the greyest state in the US. Gail Holley of the Florida Department of Transportation’s Safe Mobility for Life program says that more needs to be done to ensure that drivers know when they must hang up their keys in order to prevent car accidents.

According to the AAA, some drivers develop conditions such as arthritis and other conditions which impair driving. Others take medication with severe side effects. In some cases, drivers can operate a car safely into their 90s. In other cases, drivers in their 30s and 40s are dealing with chronic conditions that affect their ability to avoid a car accident. Therefore, it is not age alone that determines driving fitness. However, drivers who are elderly are more at risk for many serious illnesses and may have conditions such as osteoporosis, which can contribute to serious and fatal injuries in the event of a traffic collision.

The AAA suggests that family and friends speak privately to someone who may be having problems driving. According to the organization, it is important to avoid making demands or lecturing the driver. This can be a challenge, since in some cases a driver may be in denial about their situation. If the driver has never gotten a ticket and still has a perfect driving record, for example, they may be reluctant to admit that they have developed some driving challenges. It is also important to discuss transportation alternatives. Many drivers in Florida are reluctant to surrender their driving privileges because they fear losing independence. It may be important to discuss alternatives such as shuttles, taxis, and other resources (as well as their costs) to reassure a driver that they will still be able to get around when they need to.

If you have a friend or loved one who you believe may be an at-risk driver, it is important to take steps to help them before they are injured in a Homestead car accident. Offering alternatives and discussing their medical condition can help. Keep in mind that it is not only the elderly who may have trouble driving due to a health condition. A younger driver with a chronic health condition may still be at risk of causing a Homestead truck accident or Homestead motorcycle accident if their condition affects driving ability. If you yourself have been diagnosed with a chronic condition, discuss your with your doctor and ask how your condition will affect your driving ability. It can be frightening to have a health concern and even more frightening to contemplate giving up your car keys due to a health condition. However, it is important to make the right decision in order to avoid a Homestead traffic accident.

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According to a recent study, elderly pedestrians may be more at risk than elderly drivers. According to the study, conducted at the University of Plymouth, pedestrians over the age of 70 were five times more likely to suffer fatal injuries when they headed out to walk, when compared with pedestrians between the ages of 21 to 29. Jonathan Rolison, who led the study, said that making the roads safer for all pedestrians means not only creating safer roads for elderly drivers but also safer streets for elderly pedestrians.

The research study reviewed U.K. police data for fatal traffic accidents that took place from 1989 to 2009. According to researchers, the results suggested that the risk of fatal injuries was similar for younger drivers and older drivers. For drivers under the age of 29, 13 in 100 million drives resulted in a fatality. For drivers over 70, the rate was 14 in 100 million driving trips. It was when researchers looked fatality rates among pedestrians that they saw a significant difference based on age. For elderly pedestrians, 23 in 100 million walking trips were fatal, a rate that was five times higher than the rate of pedestrian fatalities for younger walkers.

While a great deal has been written about the risk of Miami car accidents for elderly drivers, this latest research suggests that Miami pedestrian accidents may be an even greater concern. Many experts believe that the elderly are more at risk for Miami traffic accidents due to such conditions as dementia, eye problems, and other health conditions which can affect an elderly person’s ability to drive safely. However, some of the same health conditions that the elderly have a disproportionately high risk for also make the elderly vulnerable to pedestrian accidents. Moreover, since many elderly residents of Miami decide to take walks in order to maintain their health and in order to get around, Miami pedestrian accidents can be a significant issue – even when an elderly driver decides to give up their keys and stop driving.

It is everyone’s responsibility to make the streets of Miami as safe as possible, and that does mean making streets safer for pedestrians. Of course, there many things that elderly pedestrians and their families can do in order to keep elderly pedestrians safer. For example, elderly pedestrians can wear visible clothing and sturdy shoes in order to prevent pedestrian accidents. They can also take good care of their health in order to ensure that Miami slip and fall accidents are less of a risk. However, it is also up to legislators and the city to ensure that sidewalks and public spaces are safe for all pedestrians.

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