Scott Crawford

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Scott A. Crawford
Georgetown, IL
Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gauging Seniors' Driving Ability

While the driving ability of seniors isn’t a subject that many people enjoy talking about, it is nevertheless an important one to discuss. As parents continue aging and the Baby Boomers start becoming senior citizens, safety becomes a serious issue. It is not only the seniors that are a concern, but also the safety of all the others on the road.

The research shows we’re losing seniors to auto accidents

A recent study co-authored by a University of Virginia mechanical and aerospace engineering professor found senior citizens drive at slower speeds and have a greater likelihood of wearing seatbelts than younger (16-33) and middle-aged (34-64) persons, but they were still more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) says the crash rate for older drivers is related to physical and mental changes associated with aging.  Most of these accidents involve multiple vehicles, occur at intersections, and involve left-hand turns.  Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 65 – 74-year-olds, and are the second leading cause (after falls) among 75 – 84 year-olds, according to the AMA.  Seniors and their family members should ensure that their ability to drive safely is intact so they are not putting themselves or others in danger.

Ways to assess a person’s driving ability:

  • Check for deteriorating vision, cognition and motor function 
  • Determine if a driver’s medical problem could impair driving   
  • Talk with family members who might be concerned about their loved one’s driving ability

While many seniors feel that taking away the driving privilege takes away their independence, this is not entirely true. There are safe alternatives to driving.

Alternatives to driving:

  • Walking
  • Public transportation
  • Rides from family and friends
  • Community transportation services
  • Cabs
  • Hospital shuttles

If you think you or a family member should no longer be driving, seek advice from a physician as soon as possible.  Remember, too, that independence is not defined by a driver’s license!

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