Fresh Ideas About Driving with Your Elderly Parents

on Monday, 14 September 2020.

If your elderly parents aren’t crazy about the idea of driving anymore, you need to give them some tough love and some supporting numbers.  Elderly parents may often have many years of experience in operating a vehicle out on the road, and they may have dealt a lot of heavy traffic, nasty weather, and other potentially severe scenarios.

 At Anderson Behel, we wanted to present these statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with our blog readers, especially with senior parents who still drive.

Seniors are much safer drivers when compared to other age groups, since they normally reduce the risk of injury by wearing their safety belts, observe speed limits, and not drinking and/or driving. However, they are also considerably more likely to be injured or killed in traffic crashes due to obvious age-related vulnerabilities, like more fragile bones and other conditions.  

Medical conditions including chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses also make it much more difficult for older drivers to fully recover from any of their crash-related injuries. With the exception of teen drivers, seniors might have the highest rate of crash deaths per mile driven, even though they drive considerably fewer miles than most younger people do.

Although more and more Americans are much healthier and live longer now than ever before, seniors are outliving their ability to operate a vehicle safely by an average of 7-10 years. Most older drivers are able to recognize and avoid situations where their limitations may put them at risk. They drive less after dark, for instance, during rush hour or in nasty weather, as well as avoiding difficult roads such as highways, expressways, and busy intersections.

Here is a wide range of key facts about senior drivers:

50% of the middle-aged population and 80% of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, crippling inflammation of the joints, which makes motions such as turning, flexing, and twisting exceedingly painful.

Weaker muscles, much-reduced flexibility, and limited range of motion will restrict senior drivers’ ability to grip and turn a steering wheel, press an accelerator or brake, or reach to open the doors and windows.

More than 75% of drivers age 65 or older report using one or more medications, but less than 33% acknowledged awareness of the potential impact of the medications on driving performance.

Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase with people ages 75-plus and rise sharply after age 80. This is mainly due to the increased risk of injury and medical complications, rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes.

Since older drivers are much more fragile, their fatality rates are 17 times higher than those of 25- to 64-year-olds.

In 2009, 33 million licensed seniors were over the age of 65, which was a 20% increase from 1998. In addition, by the year 2030, it is projected that 70 million Americans in this country will be over age 65 – and 85-90% of them will be fully licensed to drive a car.

In 2014, nearly 5,700 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic crashes.

Sources: NHTSA and Forbes


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