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Older drivers can take steps to stay safe on roads

While it is possible that anyone who is driving a car could be involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are certain demographics for which that risk is higher. One of those groups is older drivers. The reason behind this is a decrease in physical and cognitive abilities that occurs to all in varying degrees as one ages. Drivers who suffer from some of these deficiencies may cause car accidents. Accordingly, it is important that aging residents of Saint Louis City County, or their loved ones, periodically assess whether they can still safely operate a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency has created a list of things that should be considered. 

The first thing that should be taken into consideration is the individual’s eyesight. Older drivers who have issues with seeing street signs, other drivers or pedestrians may be at risk for causing an accident. Problems with seeing at night or dawn or dusk can also be cause for concern. Accordingly, any older who faces any of these problems should annually visit and eye doctor and wear glasses that contain a current prescription.

Physical difficulties can also lead an older driver to cause a car accident. Difficulties with physically operating the vehicle or being able to completely turn one’s head to check for other cars before changing lanes are potentially a cause for concern. Driving a car equipped with special devices to make it physically easier to do may help. In addition, a doctor may be able to prescribe a fitness program, stretches, medication or physical therapy that can alleviate the physical symptoms.

Sometimes, aging drivers may find that they feel overwhelmed or nervous while operating a car. This could cause a driver to react slowly to situations that arise or inflict confusion. These symptoms may be addressed by a change in medication prescribed by one’s doctor. In addition, only driving during the day on routes one is familiar with is a good approach.

The aging process can impact one’s faculties when it comes to driving. Despite these physical and cognitive changes, it may still be possible for an older individual to operate an automobile. Incorporating changes such as those discussed above may make that possible.

Source: NHTSA, “Safe Driving for Older Adults,” Nov. 14, 2013

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