Like it or not, there are a lot of senior drivers on the road and as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age there are going to be a lot more! If your father is still driving, you’re probably concerned about his safety behind the wheel along with the safety of his passengers and other folks he may literally run into! There’s pretty good reason to be concerned: as we age, our eyesight gets worse, our reactions slow down, and arthritis can make it difficult to look around as we change lanes.
It may surprise you to learn that senior drivers do not get into as many accidents as you might think. Drivers in their 70’s have about the same accident rate as drivers in their 30’s and drivers age 80-84 have the same accident rates of 25-29 year olds! A lot of seniors only drive in good weather and during the day, and they also tend to drive on familiar roads. On the other hand, the death rates for older drives go up sharply from age 75 and up. This is because older seniors are much more fragile.
So if your father is in good health and continues to pass his driving tests, he’s probably driving as safely as your average 25 year old (for whatever that’s worth). But as he gets older he is more likely to be seriously injured or killed in any car crash. And certainly if you see him driving dangerously, you need to take action.
Here are some practical tips:
- Make sure your father has regular eye exams and if he’s wearing glasses that they are up to date
- Check that his car is in good condition, with clean windows, windshield washer fluid, and properly inflated tires with enough tread
- Schedule appointments or errands outside of rush hours
- Help him find other ways of getting around if he isn’t comfortable driving at night or in bad weather.
- Many medications interfere with driving - check the labels. When in doubt, ask his doctor or pharmacist
- Check the laws in your state for restrictions on older drivers. Many states require more frequent tests and vision exams. Make sure his license, registration, and insurance are all valid