December 7-11, 2020 Is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

December 7th, 2020

It’s an old cliché that if you get stuck behind a car going well below the speed limit, it must be an elderly driver. And while people may like to joke that older people make the worst drivers, the joke is no longer funny once it’s our own loved ones getting up there in years.

As our loved ones age, we start to worry about their safety. And for good reason: according to the CDC, drivers over the age of 75 are more likely to die in a crash than middle-aged drivers.

“Are they more likely to get into a crash?” “What happens if they do?” “What can I do to keep them safe?”

These are the questions that Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is meant to answer and bring attention to. If you’re worried about an older driver in your life, here’s how you can take action to keep them safe.

Have a Conversation With Your Loved One About Their Driving

In some ways, older drivers as an age group are safer drivers than others.

Older drivers are more likely to:

  • Wear a seatbelt
  • Only drive when conditions are safest (in daylight with clear weather)
  • Not drink and drive
  • Not text and drive
  • Not speed

However, older drivers also may have worsening vision or hearing, as well as slower reaction times or more difficulty controlling the vehicle. That means they are less able to recognize and respond to emergency driving situations in time to prevent a crash.

If your older loved one has recently been involved in a minor crash or received a traffic ticket, then now’s a good time to discuss their driving capabilities.

These conversations should always be approached delicately, because older drivers often feel that losing their ability to drive also means losing their ability to live independently. When that happens, they may not want to accept that changes to their driving routine are necessary. Make your conversations solution-focused.

Plan Ahead for Changes That Can Affect Driving

As we grow older, we often begin to find we have more difficulty doing things we used to easily be able to do before, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, while there isn’t much we can do to stop the effects of the aging process, we can plan for it and plan around it.

For example, knowing that eyesight tends to grow worse with age, make sure your older family members get an eye exam at least once a year, and suggest driving only during daylight hours when weather conditions are clear.

Planning routes and knowing where they will park ahead of time can also reduce stress on elderly drivers and make it so they don’t need to make any sudden traffic maneuvers that could increase their risk of an accident.

Regular driving checkups are also important. Make sure your loved one can reach all vehicle controls and pedals, all mirrors are adjusted to their eyeline, all lights are working, and all tires are properly inflated and have a safe amount of tread.

If they are suffering from injuries, infirmities, or conditions like arthritis that make it painful or difficult to drive, there are also a number of adaptive devices and technologies that can be purchased to make it easier.

  • If your loved one has difficulty entering or exiting a vehicle, they should consider a removeable support bar (which can be attached to the door latch), swiveling seat cushion, or swing-out seat.
  • If your loved one has trouble reaching up and across their body, they should consider attaching a pull ribbon to their seatbelt to make it easier to put on.
  • If your loved one has difficulty reaching or pressing the pedals, they should consider adding pedal extenders or installing hand controls.
  • If your loved one has difficulty twisting around or finds it painful to turn their head, they should consider installing extra wide mirrors and a backup camera.
  • If your loved one finds themselves becoming lost or more easily confused, they should consider a subscription to a navigation and emergency assistance system such as OnStar.

Finally, ask your loved one to speak to their doctor to make sure any medications they may be taking do not interfere with their ability to drive.

Ways to Stay Active Without a Car

Without access to transportation, elderly people often experience social isolation, depression, and the feeling that they’ve lost control over their lives. But losing one’s ability to drive does not have to mean a loss of independence.

  • Find rides with family, friends, or neighbors. If your loved one doesn’t want to be dependent on the goodwill of others to be driven somewhere, they could consider “paying” for rides with chores of similar value, such as signing for packages or feeding a pet for a neighbor who works during the day in exchange for a ride.
  • Explore public transportation options. Some grocery stores, malls, and places of worship offer transportation services such as bus lines to seniors and others who can’t easily get there themselves.
  • Use rideshare services. Services like Uber and Lyft are an increasingly popular way to get around for those who can’t drive themselves for on-demand rides from most anywhere at most any time of day.
  • Use volunteer driver programs. Check for volunteer driving programs in your area, which often offer complimentary transportation to the elderly and disabled to doctors’ appointments, shopping centers, the bank and post office, and more.
  • Relocate to a walkable community. If your loved one lives in an area that requires a car to get around, it may be time to think about moving if driving is no longer a safe option. It does not necessarily even mean they need to move into an assisted living center, if they can reach major destinations such as the grocery store, social club, etc., without the need for a car.

If Your Elderly Loved One Has Been Injured in a Car Accident Through No Fault of Their Own, We Want to Help

The elderly often experience far worse injuries in auto accidents than other age groups, making them some of the most vulnerable drivers on the road. If your loved one has been injured, their health and quality of life may be at serious risk, and they will likely need significant compensation to cover their medical bills, pain, and suffering.

When their accident is not their fault, senior drivers don’t deserve to be stuck dealing with this kind of significant financial debt on their own. They deserve compensation. And our Louisiana car accident lawyers want to help get it for them. Contact us today for a free case review.