Why is Driving Riskier for Seniors?

elderly woman driving a car while confusedAre your parents growing old? Have they given up on their car keys or do they still drive? Technically, there is no fixed age at which a person should stop driving, but changes in the behavior and driving habit might serve as triggering signs. So, for instance if your parents don’t remember routes or have begun to respond slowly, then maybe it’s time for them to bid farewell to driving, or they will put theirs and other people’s life at risk.

Why is driving riskier for seniors? Because their body goes through a number of changes, physical as well as psychological, which affects normal functioning, and hence, their ability to drive.

Physical Changes

An aging person goes through a number of physical changes which can affect their ability to drive.

  • Vision and hearing decrease with age, and reflexes become slower. This makes it more difficult to see other cars, hear the sound of horns or respond timely at intersections and curves.
  • An aching or stiffed back or neck means that your parents find it difficult to turn behind. So, it would likely be hard for them to change lanes or check for pedestrians.
  • Painful and weak legs make it hard for your parents to switch between the pedals and gears, or put the car in speed.
  • If your parents are losing their overall strength, then they won’t be able to turn the steering wheel with ease.

Cognitive Changes

Other than physical changes, certain cognitive changes may also occur in old age.

  • Old age is often accompanied with slower reaction times, so your elderly parents might take more time to notice cars or respond to sudden stops of the cars before them.
  • The ability to multitask decreases, driving becomes risky because your parents may not be able to notice all the road signs when driving.