Driving a car is a major responsibility, as those behind the wheel must protect themselves, their passengers and other drivers with whom they share the road. However, aging can affect a driver’s ability to handle a vehicle.
The National Institute on Aging reports that changes in health can seriously affect any motorist, and remaining aware of these changes helps to prevent driving issues that could result in a serious accident.
1. Slowing reflexes
As people age, their reflexes tend to slow, and this can increase the risk of accidents. For example, if another vehicle brakes or swerves suddenly to avoid another car, an older driver may not stop or react in time to prevent involvement in the accident. Changes in traffic patterns might also require quick reflexes for switching lanes or avoiding disabled vehicles.
2. Changes in vision
Age can affect the senses, and changes in sight can have a definite impact on driving ability. Driving at night can become especially difficult, which may increase the risk of an accident. Updating glasses or contact prescriptions at least once a year can help older drivers remain confident behind the wheel.
3. Muscle fatigue
Aches and pains connected with aging can also affect driving ability, especially for those who drive vehicles with manual transmissions and must continuously work the clutch, gas and brake. Increased pain and fatigue can increase the odds of a crash, especially on longer drives.
Certain medications and memory loss can also affect older drivers. Those who experience problems while behind the wheel may want to speak with their physicians regarding future driving ability.