The American Occupational Therapy Association declared December 6-10, 2021 “Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.” As we get older, our cognition, senses and reflexes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, which can lead to serious accidents. The CDC reports that “each day, more than 20 older adults [65+] are killed and almost 700 are injured in crashes.”
No one wants to see a loved one injured or killed in an accident, yet some older drivers retain their licenses long past the time where they should have surrendered them. What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?
Resources for older drivers
The AOTA has provided a number of resources, both for older drivers and the families who support them. As they point out, medical advancements have made it possible for Americans to live longer than ever. With the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age, we have more elderly drivers on the road than ever before.
Not only does aging contribute to sensory and cognitive decline, but it can become physically difficult to drive. Seniors may not be able to easily reach the pedals or turn the ignition key. They may suffer from aches and pains that slow their responsiveness. This article suggests going to a free CarFit event, where volunteers help drivers adjust their vehicles for safety and comfort purposes.
There are also resources available for having tough conversations about driving, and how to keep your elderly relative active in the community, even when they give up their license.
Staying safe on the road
Even if you’re not yet retirement age, it’s still important to be aware of elderly drivers and their potential limitations. This 2003 California accident, in which an 86-year-old man plowed through a farmer’s market and killed ten people, sparked a national conversation about elderly drivers. Despite passing DMV vision and driving tests, the driver accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake, and then couldn’t stop the vehicle.
It’s impossible to predict which drivers are unsafe by appearance alone. However, if you notice erratic driving from an elderly driver, be sure to give them a wide berth. When it’s safe to call, notify local law enforcement (or have a passenger call) to let them know what you witnessed. Although it can feel unkind to report a senior, it may be their wake-up call to consider other transportation options.
Talk to an Ohio personal injury lawyer today
No one wants to surrender their license and give up their independence, but sometimes it’s simply not safe for elderly drivers to be on the road. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877.483.2298 for a consultation, and we’ll discuss your claim.