D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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The effect of aging varies from person to person. Some people can drive well into their 70s and 80s while others simply can’t – and shouldn’t.

Statistics show that elderly individuals are more likely to receive a citation due to improper turns and failing to yield the right-of-way as well as running stop signs and red lights. These all indicate a decreased driving abilities that are often seen within the elderly community.

This all happens because of the change of perceptual and sensory functions as we age, which may include visual decline, hearing loss, current medications, and dementia. Additionally, when accidents do occur, the injuries are much more serious for the elderly than they would be for an individual half their age who’s involved in the same accident.

According to the statistics on the effect in connection with age, fatal crashes occur more with senior drivers than from any other age group. Also, because of their frailty, elderly drivers are at a higher risk of death after being involved in a car accident.

Statistics also show that by 2030, the elderly will make up 25 percent of the drivers on the roads and will also be involved in almost 25 percent of the fatal crashes.

As of 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that close to 30 million elderly drivers were driving in America. Of these, 6,017 were killed in car accidents, which resulted in 14 percent of the total number of fatalities due to crashes.

Some things can be done to ensure driver safety when dealing with senior drivers. Other than regular testing and monitoring your loved one, make it a more comfortable experience for them by lowering the steering wheel so they can see the road more clearly.

Other safe drivers’ tips include making sure to avoid getting behind the wheel when sick, injured, or drowsy as well as avoiding any sort of multitasking when driving. This includes talking on the phone, eating, and drinking while on the road. Always make sure you keep your hands in the 10 and two positions of the steering wheel and stay at least two car lengths behind the car in front of you.

There are warning signs to pay attention to when dealing with an elderly person or loved one and deciding when they should stop driving. Pay attention to whether or not they are struggling to read the street signs or if their vision is compromised in any way. Notice if they drive better during the day in comparison to their night-driving skills.

Also, make sure to keep track of when they get lost and how often this happens. If this is on familiar roads they have been using for a while, this is a major warning sign. Another warning sign to look for is if they struggle when directions are needed to get somewhere or when they have to go at higher speeds, such as on a highway.

Other warning signs to look for include the number of accidents they have been in and whether they were deemed at-fault accidents. Look at how often they miss turns, hit curbs, or put pedestrians at risk during their time driving. Take notice when mature drivers talk say that objects or people tend to come from nowhere.

Informing a loved one that you feel they should stop driving may seem like a difficult task because the last thing you want to do is hurt their feelings. Before speaking to them, make sure you have all your facts in order. This includes all the observations you have made when it comes to their driving skills and any of the warning signs that you noticed. It also helps to have statistics on-hand so you can provide them with real-world facts of what can happen when senior citizens continue to get behind the wheel when their abilities have waned.

Having this information on hand ahead of time shows your loved ones that you have done your research and that you really care about them and their wellbeing when you go to speak with them.

When speaking to a loved one, the first thing that needs to be expressed is your concerns for their safety. Make sure they understand that you love them and you want to look out for their best interest. Don’t criticize every move they make as this will almost always cause someone to become defensive. Make sure they understand the risks that they take every time they get behind the wheel and express your concern for others as well.

After you’ve spoken with your loved one about your concern for their safety, it is only normal for them to be concerned about how they will get around and live life without the freedom of driving.

If they live with someone who can drive, whether it’s you or another friend or family member, this will make it easier for them to adjust to. They know they have someone around who’s willing to help take them to the store, go out to eat, or even ride to work with.

If they don’t live with someone, this can be a bit more difficult in ensuring them that it’s possible to live without a vehicle. Public transportation is one of the transportation options that they can use when they need to get around. If they need to only get back and forth from work, they can participate in a carpool with other co-workers who live in their area.