During 2015 in Canada, 418 people age 65 years and older died in traffic-related accidents. This age group had the highest number of deaths that year related to traffic accidents. In addition, 1,333 seniors suffered serious injuries in traffic accidents during 2015. Total injuries for seniors in traffic-related accidents totalled 16,861 for the year. Because of the risk of injury from motor vehicle accidents, senior adults and their families must seriously consider when it is time for a senior to stop driving because it is too dangerous for that person to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.
What are the Risk Factors for Senior Drivers?
As we age, certain changes take place that can impair our ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Some of the factors that can increase the risk of an accident for a senior driver include:
- Prescription Medications — Many seniors take one or more medications daily. The side effects of some prescription medications can impair driving. In addition, combining certain medications can cause serious problems. Discuss the side effects of medications with a physician to determine if tremors, drowsiness, confusion, blurred vision, or other potential side effects may impair driving abilities.
- Vision Impairment — Many seniors experience a decrease in visual acuteness. Vision impairment can increase the risk of being involved in a traffic accident. It is very important for seniors to have routine eye examinations to determine visual acuteness and obtain corrective lenses, if necessary, for driving.
- Hearing Impairment — Some seniors also experience a loss of hearing. As hearing deteriorates with age, it is easier to miss warning sirens and horns while driving. Just as seniors need regular vision tests to continue to drive, they also need routine hearing tests to determine their ability to hear warnings while driving that can alert them to potential hazards or danger.
- Health Conditions — The person’s overall health condition must be considered when assessing his or her ability to operate a vehicle safely. Some health conditions can cause mental and/or physical impairments, such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. You should consult with your physician to determine if your health conditions can make it more dangerous to drive a vehicle.
Tips for Knowing When It Is Time to Stop Driving a Vehicle
Every person is different; therefore, it can be difficult to know when you or your loved one needs to give up the keys to the car. However, some signs should cause you to re-evaluate whether a person should be behind the wheel of a vehicle:
- An increase in the number of traffic tickets received by a driver for any reason.
- Hitting curbs, shrubs, or other stationary objects more often.
- An increase in the number of “near misses” a driver experiences.
- Noticing a higher number of scrapes, scratches, and dents on the vehicle.
- Driving too slowly or too fast for the road or weather conditions.
- Becoming easily distracted or confused, especially when driving.
- A delay in the physical or cognitive response to unexpected situations.
How to Discuss Giving Up the Keys with Your Loved Ones
Asking a person to stop driving can be very difficult. Many people equate driving a vehicle with freedom; therefore, asking your loved one to give up the car keys can be interpreted as a request to give up a person’s freedom. Before speaking to your loved one, consider how giving up driving will impact your loved one’s life. Find alternate solutions to these issues before addressing the matter with your loved one.
Also, recognize that this issue might be very difficult for your loved one to admit. It is helpful to have “evidence” that can substantiate your position that the senior needs to stop driving. Be prepared for any reaction, including anger and sadness, so that you can respond with compassion, but also strength and resolve to protect your loved one from harm.
Contact an Ontario Accident Lawyer for Help
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, we can help. Simply because a senior is involved in the accident, it does not mean the senior was at fault for the collision. Some insurance companies automatically blame an elderly driver for a crash. Do not let this happen to you or your loved one. Get help from an experienced Ontario car accident lawyer.
Contact Diamond and Diamond by calling 1-800-567-HURT to schedule a free consultation.