Older Adult Drivers

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James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. represents people who have been injured through the negligence of others.  Many people are injured because of motor vehicle accidents but this is a special problem for older drivers, who may have age related conditions which affect their driving and tend to be more susceptible to injury when accidents occur because of general frailty and age related medical conditions.

There were more than 40 million licensed drivers aged 65 or older in the United States and this number will increase as the population ages. On average, 19 older drivers are killed, and 712 are injured in crashes every day. The incidence of fatal crashes increases among drivers aged 70-74 and is highest among drivers aged 85 and older.

On the plus side, older drivers are more likely to use seat belts and to limit their driving when conditions are more hazardous (at night, during bad weather, or on high speed roads), and less likely to drink and drive.

On the negative side, older drivers tend to experience declines in vision (including reduced night vision and peripheral vision), hearing, cognitive ability (reasoning and memory), and physical ability (strength, range of motion, flexibility, and coordination) that adversely affect driving. Medical conditions such as heart disease, dementia, diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also increase the risk of accidents, along with medications prescribed for various conditions such as sleep, mood, pain and allergies. Aging can affect the way that the body reacts to medication, causing side effects that make it more difficult to drive safely.  

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Driving is important for older citizens so that they can be more mobile and independent. Fortunately, there are things they can do to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. Here some of the steps that older drivers can take to stay safe:

MEDICAL EVALUATION: Discuss your medical problems with your doctor to determine whether they may adversely affect your driving, and whether you should continue to drive. He may advise you to discontinue medications that can affect your driving or suggest safer alternatives.  

VISION ASSESSMENT: Your eyes should be checked at least once a year and glasses or corrective lenses worn as directed.

HEARING LOSS: Older drivers should have their hearing tested every year, and hearing aids may be needed or helpful.

TRIP PLANNING: You should plan your route before you drive, and consider alternatives to driving, such as riding with someone else, using public transportation or car ride services. Whenever possible, try to drive in good weather and during daylight.

DRIVE SAFELY: Leave a large distance between you and the car in front (reaction times slow with age) and avoid distractions in the car, such as eating, texting, cell phone usage, and loud radio (age related changes can affect your concentration).

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: regular exercise can help you maintain strength and flexibility. Seek treatment for medical conditions such as sleep apnea that may affect your driving.

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If you or a loved one have been injured through the negligence of someone else, please contact us at 304-881-0652 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll free) for a free initial consultation. You may also contact us at our website, www.jfhumphreys.com. For more information about driving and age , check out the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website at  https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/older_adult_drivers/index.html.

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