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*not for medical emergencies or to discuss participant details

As we get older, driving can become increasingly difficult. Driving a car can be a complicated task when you factor in other drivers, dangerous road conditions and other factors. And, changes related to aging make this task no easier.

How Age Can Impair Driving

There are several age-related changes that can affect driving. These changes include the following:

  • Declining vision and flexibility. As people age, their vision may begin to decline. This can make it harder to read signs on the sides of the road. It can also become harder to see the road and other drivers. Reduced flexibility can also pose a problem because if a quick maneuver is needed, like quickly braking or steering, it can be difficult to perform without flexibility.
  • Increasing trouble with glare. Driving when the sun is high and glare is prevalent can be difficult for people as they age because trouble with glare increases as people age.  
  • Slowing reaction time. As people age, their reaction time decreases. In unexpected driving situations where quick maneuvering is needed, like a driver turning in front of you or an icy road, to avoid an accident, a slower reaction time can be detrimental. Also, a slower reaction time can make driving more dangerous for the senior and for others on the road.
  • Greater confusion in complex driving situations. In situations where driving is increasingly complex, such as multiple lanes or unusual circumstances, it can be easier for a senior to become confused and unable to handle the circumstance.

Tips for Driving

Here are some tips for reducing the effects that aging can have on driving.

  • Maintain a safe distance between your car and others. This is a tip for everyone on the road whether they are a senior or not. It is important for seniors to maintain a distance between themselves and other cars to allow for increased reaction time. It is also important for others to maintain a safe distance to account for needs of other drivers whether they are a senior or not.
  • Determine whether or not a senior is fit to drive. Friends, family, and motor vehicle offices can help make decisions regarding an older person’s ability to drive. It can be a difficult process, but it can be safer for both the senior and others on the road to decide that a senior no longer has the ability to drive safely.
  • Try a driver refresher course. Many older drivers benefit from a driver refresher course that can help reduce the chance of the driving problems that can occur with age. There are also self-tests available through the AAA Foundation that can determine if your driving skills need a tune-up.

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