Among all American drivers, one in six of those drivers are seniors 65 years and older. The number of senior drivers has steadily increased, and there will be more senior drivers on the road now more than ever. Senior drivers are known for being cautious drivers compared to the younger generations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are more likely to wear their seatbelts, drive the speed limit, and not drive under the influence. However, there are some signs that senior drivers might become a danger to themselves and others while on the road. So, when should you stop driving as a senior? Let’s discuss below.
Develop chronic health conditions
As you age, the risk of developing a health condition is high. For example, about 92% of seniors have one chronic health disease, according to the National Council on Aging. Depending on your health condition, it might be dangerous for you to drive on the road.
For example, glaucoma is a common health condition among the elderly. Glaucoma can create problems with your peripheral vision. When you drive with your vision impaired, you will likely have trouble seeing traffic signs, other cars on the roads, and pedestrians. As glaucoma progresses, the more dangerous your driving can become.
Epilepsy is another health condition that can affect your driving capabilities. Seizures can often make you lose complete consciousness without warning. Therefore, if you have had a recent episode, you should not get behind the wheel of a car.
Among the many different health conditions seniors have, most are treated by prescription medication. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 89% of seniors who are 65 years and older take prescription medications. Although prescriptions are meant to help your body, many can create side effects.
The most common medications that cause side effects are allergy medications, narcotic medications, sleeping pills, and antidepressants. A few of the common side effects of these prescription drugs that can impair your driving are blurred vision, drowsiness, and dizziness.
If you begin to experience any of these side effects, you should stop driving.
Many seniors experience vision loss as they get older. There are many reasons seniors lose their vision when they age, but some of the common causes are cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. If you experience any of these health issues, it can create a significant impact on your capability of driving.
About one in five seniors 65 years and older has a cataract. A cataract makes the lens of your eye cloudy, which blocks the light coming through your eye lens. Therefore, making it very difficult for you to see. If you drive at night and have a difficult time seeing, you should get your vision checked, as this could be a sign that you have the eye disease.
Even if you do not experience any of these types of eye diseases, it is recommended to visit an ophthalmologist once a year to ensure your vision is up to par and it’s safe for you to drive on the roads.
Frequent driving violations
Lastly, if you are being ticketed or violating traffic laws more frequently, then that is a sign you should stop driving. Speeding is a common driving violation. If you cannot read the speed limit signs, you are potentially putting yourself and other drivers at risk of danger.
Driving in the wrong direction is also a dangerous violation. You should always look out for one-way road signs when driving. If you find yourself driving on the wrong side of the road often and can never turn in the other direction quickly while staying calm, then you should hang up your driving keys.
Aging does not mean that you must stop driving. However, many situations can happen where it should be a sign you need to stop driving. If you have a debilitating chronic health disease, experience vision loss, or experience frequent driving violations, that is when you should stop driving as a senior.