Many of us have dealt with the issue of deciding whether our elderly parents should still be driving. We worry about them getting into accidents. Most people assume that accident rates increase as drivers age. In fact, studies have shown that drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than in previous generations. They are also less likely to be seriously hurt if they do crash. Older drivers are often safer because they are less likely to speed, drive drunk or text while driving.
There are a number of things that can be done to keep older drivers safely behind the wheel and to give you peace of mind:
- Consider the impact of medications. Discuss the side effects and whether or not it will put limitations on their driving.
- If your elderly driver has vision problems, work out a schedule of shopping, errands and medical appointments that take place during the daylight times. Discourage driving in the dark of night.
- Consider the latest safety implements when purchasing a car for older drivers. Technology is available in some cars that alerts drivers with a beep or light to obstacles crossing behind or stopped in front of the car. Some cars have a lane departure warning if the car starts to drift.
- Spend time with your elderly drivers. Make sure that the seats and mirrors are properly adjusted. Have them drive to the store or take a nice relaxing weekend drive. The more they drive, the better their skills will be. This will also give you a chance to assess their driving capability.
- AAA and AARP screening assessments – These organizations offer simple online screening assessments to check if a driver’s knowledge of the road, skills and reflexes are up to par. If problem areas are noted, it can help you to work on skills and make the correct decisions about driving capability.
Studies have shown that 76% of boomers plan on driving into their 80’s and 90’s. As they think about their future, driving will remain a key ingredient to being active and independent. It is important to make plans and have the necessary discussions to keep aging boomers safe on the road.