As regular readers of this blog will know, there are all kinds of studies and statistics about Missouri car accidents and the numerous contributing factors involved. In Kansas City, Blue Springs, and the surrounding areas, these factors can include road conditions, distracted drivers, weather events, and overcorrection, among many, many others. One factor that is often highlighted - sometimes unnecessarily - is driver age. We'd like to share some facts about older drivers, and help to put those facts into a practical perspective. As always, our Kansas City Missouri car accident attorneys believe that well-informed, prepared drivers make Missouri highways safer.
While there are a number of stereotypes and misconceptions about older drivers, the truth is that many older drivers are very sensible about regulating their driving, adjusting how and when they drive to accommodate changes brought on by aging. With a lifetime of driving experience, many senior citizens continue to be safe drivers who can make good decisions behind the wheel. It's usually unfair to make generalizations about people's abilities based on factors like age: there are many safe drivers (and irresponsible drivers, for that matter) in every age group, young and old alike.
If you have a loved one who is an older driver:
Driving is often a source of pride and independence, and it also marks a rite of passage in our culture. For these reasons, losing the right or the ability to drive can be disheartening and embarrassing. As a result, there are some older drivers who refuse to admit, even to themselves, that they struggle to drive, or that they can no longer drive safely.
Around 10% of older drivers have medical conditions that put them at risk for driving. These include conditions such as impaired vision; a reduction in cognitive function or attention; and a range of physical ailments that contribute to reaction time, alertness, and range of motion.
It is important to ask questions of your loved one, if you're concerned that he or she is no longer safe behind the wheel:
- Can the driver see highway and road signs, lane markings, other vehicles and lights?
- Does the driver have trouble looking over a shoulder to see into the next lane?
- Can the driver fully turn the steering wheel?
- Is the driver able to move quickly enough between the brake and acceleration pedals?
- Does the driver feel overwhelmed by the speed or number of vehicles on the road?
- Does the driver have difficulty judging speed, or the size of gaps in traffic for merging?
These issues can be indications of potential problems, and they should be evaluated on an ongoing basis. If they continue, it may be time to consider modifying driving habits, or to look for other modes of transportation.
Where you can get help:
The Arrive Alive website and theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration are both excellent resources for help with older driver assessment. They also provide tips for talking with older drivers about their driving. Missouri Health and Senior Services, along with most local hospitals, will also offer support and information.