Older Drivers – On The Road Again…Or Not

older drivers

Some Facts About Senior Drivers

Because Today’s seniors are healthier than ever before, they are more active than ever before. By the year 2030, there will be more than 70 million Americans who are age 65 and older. And, of that population, 85-90% of them will have active drivers’ licenses.

These older drivers are among the safest drivers on the road because more of them wear safety belts, do not drink and drive, and adhere to all speed limits.  Injuries and crashes are more common in young drivers, but senior drivers are more likely to sustain serious injuries and to die in accidents because of the fragility associated with their age.

According to NOLO, the state of Ohio imposes no special rules on drivers based on age when it comes to renewing their drivers’ licenses. The usual rules apply which include every 4-year renewals, and vision tests.

Older Drivers Need Their Independence

Driving is very important to seniors because it means independence. Whether it’s trips for doctors’ appointments or needing something from the grocery store or participating in activities, seniors crave being able to drive themselves.

There is an ongoing risk of depression when seniors become isolated because they can’t drive themselves.
According to Dr. Regina Koepp, “When older adults stopped driving, they tended to stay in their homes, their social network shrank, and their risk for depression nearly doubled! Not to mention that they were also more likely to experience cognitive decline and be admitted to a long-term care facility.”

Can you even imagine a bigger incentive to remain driving for as long as possible?

Self-Evaluation for Older Drivers

 The National Institute on Aging asks:

(1) How are your muscles and joints?
Arthritis could affect your ability to drive because it might make it harder to turn your head and look back, or to turn the steering wheel quickly, or to brake safely.
SUGGESTION: Drive a car with automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and large mirrors. And, exercise on a regular basis.

(2) How Is your eyesight?
Since eyesight changes as we age, it becomes more difficult to see things in your direct line of sight. It can be difficult to deal with glare from oncoming headlights or streetlights or the sun might be blinding.
SUGGESTION: See your eye doctor annually, wear your prescription glasses or contact lenses, reduce the times you drive at night, avoid driving at sunrise or sunset.

(3) How is your hearing?
There is often a change in hearing due to aging.
SUGGESTION: After the age of 50, have your hearing checked every 3 years. Keep the inside of your car as quiet as possible.

(4) How are your reflexes?
As we age, there is often a change in reflex time, attention span, or difficulty in multi-tasking.
SUGGESTION: Double the amount of space between you and the car in front of you, start braking early when you know you’re going to be stopping, drive in the right lane on the interstate highway.
Finally, all senior drivers can benefit from a senior Driver Improvement Course.
According to AARP and AAA “There are many different driver safety programs for seniors both online and in-person which can make recommendations for managing and accommodating age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time.”

We recommend talking to our social worker first, before making any of these decisions. Call her at Kabb Law 216-970-5222.