There is plenty of information available about the risks younger drivers present on the road. Everyone is aware that their inexperience and impulsivity can impact their driving. But once we age out of that bracket, there’s not often a lot of talk about how risky a driver is based on age. But when you’re an older driver on the road, your risks do change. And they can change significantly.
As you age, your vision may start to decrease. You may begin struggling to see things, people, and movement when it’s not in your direct line of sight. It can become harder to read street signs, distinguish what’s happening ahead of you, and see well enough to drive at night.
You can reduce this risk by regularly getting vision exams, wearing glasses or contacts if you need them, and not driving at night if you can’t see well. It’s also a good idea to avoid driving at sunrise or sunset, when the sun will be directly in your line of vision, potentially blinding you.
As with vision, hearing begins to diminish as you age. This can make it harder to hear horns, sirens, or even sounds from your own car. This can lead to accidents because you’re not aware of something happening around you—or even in your own car.
You can reduce this risk by getting your hearing checked regularly, wearing hearing aids if you need them, and keeping the car as quiet as possible. Keep the radio turned low and consider putting your windows down to make it easier to hear things outside the car.
Arthritis and Slower Reflexes
Many older people suffer from arthritis, which can affect your driving. Even if you don’t, your reflexes begin to slow the older you get. And if you have both arthritis and slower reflexes, that can be a big problem. Either condition or both can contribute to an inability to look over your shoulder, steer quickly or brake safely.
You can compensate for this by leaving more distance between you and other vehicles, braking early, and avoiding rush-hour traffic or busy highways. But if another driver cuts you off, veers into your lane, or otherwise endangers you, you may not be able to react quickly enough to prevent an accident.
Older people often take more medications than younger people. One or more of these medications may interfere with your ability to drive. They may cause drowsiness, lightheadedness, or make you otherwise less alert.
It’s important to check your medications and if they say not to drive or that they may interfere with driving, to see how they affect you before getting behind the wheel. If you need to be able to drive and a medication says not to, you may need to talk with your doctor to find out if there are any alternatives.
Even if you’re careful with your driving as you age, if you still get in an accident, the other party may try to blame you for the accident based solely on your age. This is why it’s important that you hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as you’ve been in an accident. A personal injury lawyer will help ensure that you aren’t held responsible for an accident that was someone else’s fault.
Drivers of any age can be at risk and face risks when driving. But older drivers can face some particular risks that you might not be thinking about after years of experience driving. All that experience can make you feel as if your skill is enough to protect you. But your skill and experience may not eliminate the risks. Be ready for anything when you get behind that wheel because the danger just might come from somewhere else.