Motor Vehicle Safety for Older Adults
Driving is a complex task and can be affected by the changes that accompany aging. Medications, changes in physical abilities such as vision, and medical conditions can have a negative effect and increase the risk of a motor vehicle collision. The increasing frailty experienced by some older adults makes them less able to withstand the impact of collision forces.
Research has also shown that, compared with younger age groups, older drivers are more likely to be seriously injured or to die in motor vehicle collisions.
For your safety, and that of others, you will need to pay special attention to your limitations as you get older. Maintaining a healthy active lifestyle can help to eliminate, or delay, some of these problems.
Consider how you can use smart risk strategies to reduce the likelihood of motor vehicle-related injuries.
- Change your driving habits. If you're at all uneasy on the road, think about changing how, when, and where you drive. Choose familiar routes. Try driving fewer miles, less often, and more slowly. Make your trip more enjoyable by planning the details in advance. Drive less at night, during rush hours, and in the winter.
- In many communities, organizations offer driver education or refresher courses for older adults such as the Canada Safety Council and provincial motor vehicle associations.
- In the event of a collision, older drivers are more likely to be injured or killed because they have more fragile bones and a reduced ability to withstand the trauma of an impact. Always wear your seatbelt, adjust your headrest, and make sure everyone else in the vehicle is buckled up.
- Any level of alcohol or drug increases your risk of injuring yourself and/or others.
- If you take more than one type of medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if the combination produces side effects that could interfere with your driving.
- Keep in mind that alcohol can increase the effects of certain drugs.
- Driver distraction and fatigue can be equally hazardous. Turn off your cell phone. Pull over and take a break when necessary.