Unique difficulties faced by mature drivers

July 6th, 2015 by admin

Mature drivers tend to have a higher risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents per mile driven than middle-aged drivers. However, age is not the sole determining factor in an individual's capacity for safe driving.

Many older drivers remain safe and make good decisions to avoid situations that make them feel less confident. But as one ages, some abilities and activities become more difficult. These changes can affect the ability to drive safely.

Mature drivers often face difficulties with primary functions that are necessary for driving safety, such as the following:

Vision

The most commonly experienced problems are:

  • Glare.
  • Contrast sensitivity.
  • Difficultly seeing in the dark.
  • Impaired peripheral vision.
  • Inability to scan the environment without pain.
  • Needing more time to adjust to light changes.

Physical

It is natural to feel weaker, experience stiffness and pain and move slower as you age. Motor functions such as muscle strength, flexibility and endurance are critical to proper vehicle operation. Even getting into the car and fastening your seatbelt may be challenging.

Cognition

Memory lapses and difficulty making decisions during distractions increase with age. Visual processing and strong attention are required for safe driving, but certain medical conditions or medications, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, have a serious effect on the mature population.

Reaction Time

The combined physical and cognitive issues may render an individual unable to react quickly in certain situations.

Despite these changes, some mature drivers risk injury rather than surrender their license. This loss is usually equated to a loss of independence and a negative milestone. We could address this issue by developing early warning programs to help older drivers to better understand their capabilities.

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