Should Older Adults Stop Driving?
Having a license and driving is always helpful if you want to have a more independent life. However, there are many risks in driving, especially if you are an older adult, but should seniors stop driving?
In Canada, three-quarters of Canadians aged 65 and older have a driver's license, according to Statistics Canada. Nevertheless, research also shows that the older a person is, the greater risk they are to experience an accident on the road. The most at risk group are older drivers aged 75+. They have higher crash death rates than middle-aged drivers (aged 35-54), according to the centre for control and disease prevention (these words will be a link for their website).
Although the numbers show that seniors may have more chances to get involved in a car accident, there are many good aspects of being an older adult who drives. Depending on the situation, driving is encouraged.
Strengths of Senior Drivers
According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (these words will be a link for their website), many characteristics make older drivers reliable.
One of these characteristics is that older seniors tend to have better judgment that comes with experience. Many older adults have been driving for a long time, and they can use this experience to their favour.
Another characteristic is that seniors tend to be more responsible. Older adults have a low rate of drinking and driving and other risky driving behaviors such as speeding compared to drivers in different age categories according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
Last but not least, seniors have a strong capacity to adapt. Older adults have made changes in their driving habits, such as choosing not to drive at night or in bad weather, for instance. This ability to adapt is critical as people experience the effects of getting older.
All these characteristics can make seniors good drivers. However, it is essential to pay attention if the effects of getting older are hampering the performance of older adults in driving. In these cases, seniors need to be careful while driving.
Getting older and the ability to drive.
Senior drivers need to be aware of their limitations in order to make good decisions. The age-related changes in seniors’ bodies can make a big difference in driving decisions and can affect road safety.
It is essential to identify the changes that could influence the ability to drive safely.
One of the changes that could influence the drive is changes in vision. These changes can lead to problems such as seeing moving objects, seeing less clearly, judging distance, or being more sensitive to glare.
It is essential to do regular exams and correct the problems to drive safely.
Another problem is related to hearing loss. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, "Hearing loss affects one's ability to hear horns, sirens and brakes. You may also have to rely on your vision more to compensate for hearing loss." In this case, frequent exams to detect the problem and correct it is also vital.
Cognitive impairment and dementia are other issues that could affect a senior's ability to drive. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, nearly 10% of Canadians over 65 have some form of dementia. Alzheimer's and other dementias increase crash risk by up to 4.7 times.
Moreover, medications that seniors with Alzheimer's may take can worsen the situation. Thus, caregivers of older adults with dementia need to assess whether it is safe for the elderly in their care to drive.
In many situations, being a senior could help in terms of driving safely. The experience, the responsibility, and the capacity to adapt can be good for driving safely and avoiding accidents.
On the other hand, seniors and caregivers need to evaluate all the cases to analyze whether a senior has what is necessary to drive safely or not. Vision problems, hearing loss, and dementia in seniors, for instance, are issues that need to be considered when driving.
Thus, older adults can drive if they are in their best condition and can conduct a vehicle safely without risking their lives and other people's lives.