With years of experience behind the wheel, seniors should be lower-risk drivers. Generally, they wear seat belts, avoid driving at night or in poor weather, don’t drink and drive, and operate the car within the speed limits.
Still, according to AAA, older Americans continue to drive an average of seven to 10 years beyond the time they should. While older drivers are aware of the rights and wrongs of driving, their physical abilities can’t keep up with their driving acumen.
AAA put it bluntly, with a representative saying, “It’s those who fail to compensate for physical or mental declines and those who do not stop driving if their limitations cannot be addressed, who suffer a higher risk of causing crashes.”
Here are some facts about seniors that make them more susceptible to crashes, according to AAA:
- Half of all middle-aged people — and four-fifths of those in their 70 years of age or older — have arthritis, which makes it tougher to make turning motions, such as when using the steering wheel.
- Older people are less flexible and have weaker muscles, making it tougher for them to turn the wheel or put their feet on the brake or gas pedals.
- More than three out of four drivers 65-years-old or older said they take one of more medication, but fewer than one-third of them were aware of whether the medication could affect their ability to drive.
By 2030, AAA estimated, 70 million drivers in the United States will be at least 65 years of age – and about 85% of them will still have driver’s licenses.
While this is a tough conversation to have, if your parent is a senior, it is time to talk about their driving abilities and to monitor their driving. It could prevent a fatal car accident that takes the life of your parent, a passenger or another driver.