As their parents age, most people worry about when it might be the right time to talk about giving up the keys to the car. It is not an easy conversation, but there are times when it may be necessary.
It is important to point out that age itself is not often the issue behind this conversation. More often it is a case of failing eyesight or possibly a dementia diagnosis. However, there is another risk of which Tennessee families – and older drivers themselves – should be aware.
What are the risks elderly drivers commonly face?
Contrary to popular belief, older age groups actually make up some of the safest drivers on the road. In 2017, AAA found that drivers between the ages of 60 and 69 had the lowest rate of crashes in nearly all age groups.
The risk of an accident might be lower for older drivers, but the danger exists if an accident still occurs. A recent study highlights two issues in particular:
- The effects of aging, not age itself: In a crash, the natural process of aging makes individuals more susceptible to serious injuries and death. Even crashes considered “minor” can have major effects on older drivers. This is generally because aging bodies have weakening bones and thinning skin, which leaves them more vulnerable in a collision.
- The popularity of “retirement vehicles”: On top of the effects of aging, older drivers tend to drive older cars that are less safe. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) studied crashes in Florida and found that drivers 70 and older often drove vehicles 16 years or older. These vehicles often lack critical modern safety measures and technology.
As the population over 60 increases, there are more older drivers on the road. Each driver and their family members should understand these risks.
But can we reduce this threat?
Aging parents might still be safe and capable drivers. Even so, it is important to address these specific risks with them. After all, there are still reckless and distracted drivers on Tennessee roads.
Obtaining a newer and safer vehicle could be a financial obstacle for older drivers, but this is one step to consider to stay safer behind the wheel. However, you may wonder what other steps you can take to help your parents. You can discuss:
- Driving only in good weather conditions
- Driving only in daylight
- Reinforcing driving skills through a defensive driving course
- Staying on top of medical visits to ensure aging will not affect driving
Older drivers may be safe drivers, but they should take extra steps to protect themselves on the road.