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Older adults and traffic accidents

Car accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age. However, it is important to understand that older adults may face unique challenges when it comes to driving.

Drivers of all ages should explore some of the factors that contribute to car accidents among older adults and ways to promote road safety for this age group.

Age-related changes

As people age, certain changes can affect their driving abilities. For instance, declining vision, slower reaction times and decreased flexibility may impact an older adult’s ability to drive. Older drivers need to be aware of these changes. Older drivers should have regular vision checks and exercise to maintain physical fitness.

Additionally, many older adults take medications to manage various health conditions. However, some medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness or impaired judgment, which can increase the risk of car accidents. Older adults should consult with their healthcare providers and understand the potential side effects of their medications. Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly 7,500 older adults needed emergency department treatment due to traffic accident injuries in 2020.

Defensive driving techniques

Adopting defensive driving techniques can enhance road safety for older adults. This includes maintaining a safe following distance, obeying traffic laws and being aware of potential hazards on the road. Older drivers should also be mindful of their own limitations and avoid driving in adverse weather conditions or during peak traffic hours when they may feel overwhelmed.

While older adults may face certain challenges on the road, it is important to remember that safe driving is a shared responsibility. Road safety is a lifelong commitment, and with the right precautions, older adults can continue to navigate the roads confidently and safely.