February 14th, 2020 by Danelle Conlon
If your elderly parents insist on driving, they can likely make a strong case — and for a good reason.
Elderly parents often have many years of experience on the road, and they may have dealt with driving in heavy traffic, inclement weather, and other severe conditions.
Conversely, there are many dangers associated with seniors driving — consider the following elderly driving statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
- Among drivers age 70 and older, crash rates per mile traveled are higher than those associated with middle-aged drivers.
- A total of 4,973 drivers age 70 and older were involved in car crashes in 2018.
- The average yearly mileage of drivers age 70 and older increased 65% from 1995 to 2017.
- Per-mile traveled, crash rates and fatal crash rates among all U.S. drivers increase starting at approximately age 70.
These IIHS statistics highlight some of the reasons why now may be a good time to encourage your elderly parents to stop driving. Yet the following IIHS elderly driving statistics show that seniors may be some of the safest drivers on the road:
- The rate of fatal collisions involving drivers age 70 and older has declined 15% between 1997 and 2018.
- From 1997 to 2018, fewer drivers age 70 and older died in crashes than in previous decades.
- In terms of fatalities per capita among drivers age 70 and older, the average has decreased 46% between 1975 and 2018.
- People age 70 and older tend to drive fewer miles than individuals in all other age groups, thereby limiting their risk of crashes.
There is a lot to consider when dealing with elderly parents driving. If you review the previously mentioned IIHS elderly driving statistics closely, you can gain insights to help you determine if now is the right time to discuss whether your elderly parents should continue to drive.
Should the Elderly Drive? Factors to Consider.
Although driving often helps a person maintain independence as he or she gets older, it is important to note that the risks of unsafe driving can escalate over time. As you weigh the pros and cons of whether your elderly parents should keep driving, there are many factors you need to consider, such as:
Poor vision hampers an elderly driver’s ability to see — and makes this individual a risk on the road. If you believe an elderly parent’s vision is starting to deteriorate, schedule an eye doctor’s appointment. This allows an elderly parent to find out if glasses or other eye care treatments are necessary. It also enables an eye doctor to identify and address any potential vision problems before they get out of hand.
One in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss and nearly 50% of adults age 75 and older have trouble hearing, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIHCD). Age-related hearing loss can affect one or both ears, and it can impair an elderly driver’s ability to hear sirens, horns, and other noises on the road. By consulting with a doctor, elderly parents can have their hearing checked and determine if hearing aids or other treatment options are required.
3. Motor Reflexes and Range of Motion
The natural aging process causes a person to slow down, and an elderly driver may be less likely than others to react quickly to traffic lights, stop signs, and other road warnings or dangers. Meanwhile, elderly drivers often lose strength and coordination due to aging, and their range of motion may also become limited. At this point, a doctor’s consultation is valuable, as it allows an elderly driver to examine the potential impact of his or her physical and mental health on driving.
How to Reduce the Risk of Car Crashes Among Older Adults
Approximately 20 older adults are killed, and an additional 700 are injured every day in car crashes in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Fortunately, there are various things that elderly drivers can do to limit the risk of car crashes, such as:
- All drivers — regardless of age — should wear a seat belt and ensure that vehicle passengers are always buckled up.
Avoid Unsafe Conditions:
- Whenever possible, elderly drivers should avoid driving in poor weather, at night, or in other conditions where risk increases.
Never Drink and Drive:
- Alcohol can impair an elderly driver’s judgement and increase the risk of a crash.
If you are dealing with elderly parents driving, sharing these tips can help you prevent crashes. It can also help you open the lines of communication to discuss whether it is beneficial for an elderly parent to continue driving.
How to Discuss Unsafe Driving with Elderly Parents
In terms of dealing with elderly parents driving, communication is paramount. There are several things that you can do to share your concerns about unsafe driving with elderly parents, including:
- Discuss why you are concerned about your elderly parents’ driving.
- Share examples that highlight the basis for your concerns about unsafe driving with your elderly parents.
- Explain that your elderly parents can drive with you, pursue public transportation, or explore other alternatives to everyday driving.
Listen and Respond:
- Be an active listener, and display empathy as you respond to your elderly parents’ driving concerns and questions.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to discuss driving with elderly parents. But, if you are concerned about your elderly parents’ driving, there is no need to wait to start this discussion. Because, if you share your driving concerns with elderly parents, you and your parents can take the first steps to discover the best solution for all parties.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Tucson – Thoroughbred, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing the Tucson area including Colonia Del Valle, Rosemont West, Myers, Naylor, Corbett, and Wilshire Heights.