Tips to Keep Older Drivers Safe

For many Oregonians, learning to drive a car is an essential rite of passage. Most of us clearly recall the process of obtaining our first driver’s license and still remember fondly our first car or truck. It’s not surprising, because driving provides such freedom and independence.

As such, anyone who has ever seen an older friend or family member lose their right to drive knows what a devastating blow it can be. Fortunately, a combination of constant improvements in motor vehicle safety and better medical treatment that helps keep us healthy has resulted in many adults driving longer than ever before.

Of course, the aging process can still adversely affect safety in some respects. In this article, we’ll address some common issues faced by older drivers and provide some tips for keeping them safe.

America’s Older Population

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 50.9 million people in the United States aged 65 and older in 2017, and 44 million of them had drivers’ licenses. This represents a 31 percent population growth increase for this age group since 2008. People 65 and older accounted for 6,907 traffic fatalities, representing 19 percent of traffic-related deaths.

Of course, thousands more were involved in serious automobile accidents and suffered serious personal injury. The CDC reports that 257,000 adults aged 65 and older received emergency treatment for injuries from car crashes.

Tips for Older Drivers

Multiple organizations provide resources for appropriately keeping older drivers safe. We’ll share a few of them below.

  • Attend regular health checkups and address all physical health concerns. For example, is a driver’s eyesight sufficient to properly see cars, signals, signs, and dangers? Does the driver have any physical infirmities that make it hard to drive? Medical care may remedy these issues. Older drivers should be vigilant in scheduling hearing tests, eyesight tests, and routine physicals. Follow medical advice to stay healthy and be a better driver.
  • Attend mental health checkups if needed and address mental health concerns. A person who gets confused or lost should not be driving unless or until the problems are resolved. Moreover, some older drivers start to feel nervous or overwhelmed behind the wheel. This is a sign that it’s time to stop driving.
  • Exercise and remain active. Staying physically fit keeps a person stronger and more flexible. These physical qualities help with driving. Exercise can also help keep a person mentally sharp.
  • Consider the effect of medications. According to the CDC, 80 percent of older people take one or more medications every day. It’s important to determine if any medications a person takes affect his or her ability to drive. Time driving schedules with your medication routine to ensure that there are no adverse effects from medication.
  • Avoid distractions while driving. Turn smart phones off and stay focused on the road and driving conditions. Do not eat or drink while driving.
  • Assess conditions before hitting the road. Traffic, weather, and road conditions are constantly changing. Plus, as we get older, we can feel better, safer, or mentally sharper at certain times than at others. Consider all of these conditions and drive when they are optimal. Driving during the daytime is usually safer than driving at night.

Call with Questions

Unfortunately, no matter how many steps people take to drive safely, there are always going to be those who drive negligently and cause accidents.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we’re here to answer any questions you might have. The experienced Oregon personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will help you hold wrongdoers accountable. We believe that’s the only way to keep all of society safe.


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