People often associate dangerous driving with young motorists. However, for reasons we discuss below, the fact is that senior drivers can present a very real threat to other road users.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 250,000 drivers over 65 were in serious car accidents in 2018. To prevent your loved one from becoming one of these statistics, you may need to have a conversation with them about reducing or stopping driving.
Factors that increase an older driver’s crash risk
When people get older, they can experience several physical and mental health changes that affect their driving capabilities. Some examples of the health-related conditions that put seniors at risk of causing an accident include:
- Declining vision
- Slower reflexes
- Memory problems
- Cognitive issues like confusion and ability to reason
- Mobility restrictions
These conditions can make it more dangerous for a person to get behind the wheel. They may appear gradually or come on suddenly, but in either case, they can make it necessary for a person to stop driving.
Having a difficult conversation
If your parent is the one you are worried about, it can be uncomfortable to talk to them about their driving. They might become defensive, angry and hurt at the suggestion that they should not drive.
To make this discussion less painful and more productive, consider how you frame it. Rather than talking about the risk your parent presents, focus on expressing your concerns for their safety.
One important fact is that drivers over 65 have a higher death rate in accidents than younger drivers, so even if they think they are safe drivers, they still are at a higher chance of being killed in a car crash someone else might cause.
It can also help to consider their position. To a parent, not driving could mean losing their independence and feeling stranded. Thus, you might talk about ways they can still get around and feel connected to others if they are not driving.
Finally, instead of telling a parent that they need to stop driving altogether, you might instead ask them to only drive during the day in familiar areas.
While this can be an awkward conversation to have with your parent, it could help your parent and other drivers stay safe while on the road.