Aging and Safe Driving
Sunday, 12 February, 2017
Older drivers have special challenges when it comes to safe driving. With age comes a gradual reduction in muscle mass and a decline in the availability of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These changes can disrupt your concentration and increase the amount of time it takes to evaluate and respond to information.
Aging tends to result in a reduction of strength, coordination, and flexibility, which can have a major impact on your ability to safely control a car. For example:
- Pain or stiffness in your neck can make it harder to look over your shoulder to change lanes or look left and right at intersections to check for other traffic or pedestrians.
- Leg pain can make it difficult to move your foot from the gas to the brake pedal.
- Diminished arm strength can make it hard to turn the steering wheel quickly and effectively.
- As reaction times also slow down with age, you may be slower to spot vehicles emerging from side streets and driveways, or to realize that the vehicle ahead of you has slowed or stopped.
- Keeping track of so many road signs, signals, and markings, as well as all the other traffic and pedestrians, can also become more difficult as you lose the ability to effectively divide your attention between multiple activities.
You may have driven your entire life and take great pride in your safety record, but as you age, it is critical that you realize your driving ability can change. To continue driving safely, you need to recognize that changes can happen, get help when they do, and be willing to listen if others voice concerns.
In addition to common age-related changes, you may also have a medical problem that can affect driving. For example, an eye problem such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degenerationcan reduce your field of vision, blur your vision or decrease your ability to adjust to low-light conditions or glare.
Conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson's disease can make it difficult to maneuver a car or turn your head to check for surrounding vehicles. What's more, a variety of medications can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness or confusion, which can affect your driving.
Even if you're just darting out to pick up a few groceries, make sure you're doing everything you can to stay safe on the road. But don't worry our caregivers always have an active driving lincene, so they can help you while you are in driving too.