Let’s face it, as we age, there are certain changes that many of us will go through. Our physical abilities may change and it is important to recognize this. Getting older will often mean that we have to be aware of the changes we are experiencing so that we can help keep ourselves and others safe. For instance, our driving abilities are likely to change as we get older. Recognizing this and taking precautionary steps accordingly can save lives!
Aging and Driving Safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that there is an increase in the number of people aged 70 out there on the roads. This is likely a combination of the fact that older people make up a larger part of the population than they used to and people are keeping their licenses longer. With the chance of physical and cognitive abilities declining with age, it can be a safety issue for seniors to continue to drive.
Consider the fact, for instance, that such functional impairments can exacerbate already stressful roadway conditions. Many driving situations require quick mental and physical responses such as changing lanes, merging, and making left turns without interfering with the flow of traffic. IIHS reports that physical and mental impairments among older drivers are associated with increased crash risk.
In addition to a decline in cognitive and physical abilities, older drivers are also more likely to be taking medications. Although medications do not always interfere with driving abilities, many medications do. It is important to always check medication instructions and warnings because of this.
This is all not to say that older people should not be driving, but it is supposed to make you and your loved ones aware that driving abilities change over the course of our lives. Making changes to your driving habits accordingly can keep everyone safer out on the roads. For instance, restricting the number of miles an older person drives can help. Also, many older people choose not to drive at night, which can also be much safer.
It may also bring you peace of mind to know that vehicle safety features have been found to be effective at reducing the chance of serious injury to older drivers. The IIHS reports, in fact, that side airbags with head and torso protection have reduced fatalities among front-seat occupants aged 70 and older by approximately 45%! Furthermore, modern seat belts that feature load limiters and pre-tensioners have been found equally effective for adults at any age, as have frontal airbags. It may also be important to note that some older cars with older-style seatbelts can have seatbelts updated. Just contact the vehicle manufacturer to check on this option.
Other modern vehicle safety features have also proved effective at preventing injuries across the population and varying ages. Such features include:
- Blindspot detection
- Front crash prevention systems
- Lane departure warning
- Rear parking sensors
- Rearview cameras
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have a loved one who is getting older and experiencing some difficulty associated with driving, it can be difficult to talk with them about this. Driving, of course, represents freedom to many seniors and the prospect of restricting it can be anxiety-inducing. Nonetheless, it is important to have such talks. We want everyone to be as safe as possible out there! If you have been injured in an accident, do not hesitate to reach out to the personal injury team at Cooper, Schall & Levy. Contact us today.