While we do not have the same level of “snowbird traffic” here in Augusta that, say, Florida does, we still have our fair share of elderly drivers on the roads. In fact, you have probably driven behind one of these individuals, feeling a mix of frustration and empathy as they slowly navigate their car down the road.
It can be easy to become annoyed at an older driver who is clearly having a difficult time driving, but remember—that person is probably a beloved parent or grandparent, and they are actually putting themselves at great risk of injury. Think beyond the slow driving or gentle lane drifting to what could happen—an accident that could hurt or kill someone.
Driving Under the Influence of Age
After a certain age—and it differs with every individual—there comes a time when a person’s health begins to deteriorate. Common effects of age include:
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Memory loss
- Balance problems
- Slowed reflexes
- Increased susceptibility to injury
When one or several of the above conditions begins to set in, driving can become an extremely dangerous endeavor. Unfortunately, many individuals experiencing these effects are often embarrassed or angered by these changes or may be unaware of how severe the problem has grown. This is when family plays an important role in discussing their older loved ones’ driving privileges.
While the odds of being in a serious wreck tend to decrease as we age and gain experience behind the wheel, after the age of 70 the odds increase considerably. If you have older family members who may be putting themselves (and others) at risk by continuing to drive, it is important to have an open, respectful conversation as a family about solutions and available options.
While driving is a freeing convenience, it is not worth the price of a serious wreck. Talk to your older loved ones today about how important their safety is to you!