Concerned about a Parent or Grandparent Behind the Wheel?
Many of us take care of aging parents, grandparents, or other family members. We stop by or call regularly to make sure they have the things they need, while monitoring their health and their appointments with medical providers. Taking the necessary precautions to protect them against accidents and injuries, such as slips and falls, is also important. While they may still feel confident in their driving abilities, older adults can end up suffering impairments that put them at risk for car accidents and injuries. Talking to older loved ones about age-related issues can be awkward, but it is an important part of protecting their safety.
Older Adults and Car Accident Risks
The National Institute on Aging advises that many of the health impacts of getting older can also impact your driving abilities. Common signs of aging which could put older adult drivers and those they encounter on the road at risk include:
- Stiff joints and muscles, which can make it harder to grip the steering wheel or apply the brakes;
- Vision impairments, which can make it difficult to see at night or when another vehicle is approaching;
- Hearing impairments, which could cause you to miss warning sounds, such as a car horn or screeching brakes;
- Slower reflexes and reaction times, which make it harder to respond in high traffic conditions or in the event of an impending collision;
- Cognitive issues, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can cause older drivers to get disoriented and panic behind the wheel;
- INcreased reliance on medications, which can mimic the effects of alcohol or cause side effects, such as tremors and excessive fatigue.
Is There Reason to Be Concerned?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there are more than 47 million drivers aged 65 and over on the roads today, many of them just as capable of driving safely as those half their age. Getting older in general does not mean you need to withdraw from driving, which actually helps seniors maintain their independence. However, there are warning signs that it may be time to limit trips or suspend driving altogether.
The NHTSA provides material designed to help adult children and other family members or friends talk to older drivers about potential limitations. Questions older adults should be encouraged to ask themselves include:
- Have I ever gotten lost in my neighborhood or traveling along a route I am otherwise familiar with?
- Are there any new scratches or dents on my car?
- Have I been involved in a ‘fender bender’ or near accident recently?
- Have I received a moving violation ticket recently?
- Am I taking medications or suffering an illness or chronic condition which could impact my driving abilities?
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At the Wexler Law Firm, P.A., our goal is to protect you and those you love. If you or a family member has been involved in a car accident, reach out and contact our West Palm Beach accident attorneys and request a consultation today.