Observe Older Driver Safety Awareness Week
During the first week of Dec., the American Occupational Therapy Association will highlight the unique needs and challenges senior drivers encounter for Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. Driving keeps older individuals active and independent, but it does come with some risks. Aging causes physical and cognitive changes that may affect the ability to safely operate a vehicle.
As people age, their hearing, vision, memory, and other physical and cognitive abilities decline. It is important to stay on top of these changes and make adjustments as needed, like wearing prescription glasses or a hearing aid.
Some medical conditions like dementia and stroke are more common among the elderly and can interfere with driving. Joint pain and stiffness due to arthritis, for example, can make it hard for the driver to turn one’s head to scan for oncoming vehicles. It is important for older drivers and their loves ones to work with their health care providers to identify and manage conditions that may potentially impact driving.
Additionally, older adults are also more likely to take prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat and manage health issues. Some may cause grogginess, dizziness, or even dangerous interactions when taken together. It is best to consult a physician and pharmacist to identify these side effects.
Safety Tips for Older Drivers
Here are some simple ways older drivers can remain safe behind the wheel and avoid a car accident:
- Wear a seat belt every trip.
- Avoid distractions, including mobile phones.
- Drive during the day for optimal visibility.
- Schedule regular hearing and vision checks to address declines.
- Check medications to avoid dangerous side effects and interactions.
What Is a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist?
Even if retesting for older drivers is not required in your state, it is still a good idea to assess a senior’s driving ability frequently. A driver rehabilitation specialist is a professional with training and experience evaluating older drivers. Typically, they are occupational therapists who test muscle strength, coordination, flexibility, decision-making, and reaction time to make an objective determination about the individual’s ability to drive. In some cases, they can recommend adjustments to help seniors stay behind the wheel for a bit longer.
Have a Plan to Help Seniors Stay Independent
It is not easy to have the conversation about when to stop driving with someone you care about. It may be helpful to come prepared with an alternate transportation plan so they can be reassured they will still be able to do and see all the things they enjoy. Take turns among family, friends, and neighbors, or utilize a ridesharing or community senior transport service to help older loved ones stay safe and active.
Bowie Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Represent Clients Injured in Accidents
If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a motor vehicle crash, one of our Bowie car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King can help. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we serve clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.