Senior Citizen’s Behind the Wheel: A Concern for Safety?
How old is too old for seniors to drive? There is an old saying “you are only as old as you feel”, but when it comes to safety, these words do not guarantee perfect health or become a shield against accidents on the road. As Americans are living longer, there is tremendous concern for our elderly loved ones on the road and their safety. For many seniors, driving represents an unimaginable sense of freedom and self-reliance. The goal is to continue driving for as long as possible; however, the decision to retire from driving can create a sense of incompetence and dependency. Even though many seniors will attempt to adjust functional difficulties and avoid challenging driving conditions, there is no doubt that the human body’s reflexes diminish over time. The undeniable truth is that people age. With advancing age, elderly drivers over the age of 70 have a higher risk of being involved in fatal automobile accidents.
A good driver never takes his or her eyes off the road. A good driver is always alert and prepared for the unexpected. So, it is fair to say that good vision is essential for road safety. One of the major factors of diminishing health is poor vision. Diminished vision does not necessarily mean that driving should come to an end; however, a person with diminished vision has limited ability to focus. Some of the age-related vision changes that affect older people are: the need for more light, having trouble seeing at night and having trouble with glare from opposite traffic. Many of the issues affecting the eye-sight of senior drivers create a safety hazard for them, and other drivers. According to the American Medial Association (AMA):
Vision is the primary sense utilized in driving. Adequate visual acuity and field of
vision, are important for safe driving, but tend to decline with age as a result of
physiologic changes and an increase in diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma,