When we think about risky drivers who put themselves and other drivers at risk, teen drivers, distracted drivers, and drunk or drugged drivers often comes to mind. Teen drivers are less experienced drivers and often overconfident in their abilities on top of often using their cell phones while driving. We see distracted drivers everywhere, from the woman putting on her makeup in the morning heading to work to the man flying down the highway typing an email on his phone. Drunk and drugged drivers are a group you hope to never see next to you driving, often inebriated enough to drive on the wrong side of the road, suddenly swerve, or not see a pedestrian crossing the street.
The group that doesn’t necessarily scream “dangerous” are our senior and elderly drivers on the road. There are more seniors than ever on the road, with many baby boomers soon entering their 70’s. Many seniors are more active than ever, running errands, heading to social events, and volunteering in their community. As our population lives longer, we need to look at the challenges our senior and elderly drivers face.
- “Do Not Operate Machinery”: Seniors are often on one, sometimes multiple, medications that can affect necessary cognitive and physical capabilities. Be aware that combinations of medications can make driving dangerous. When a prescription says “Do Not Operate Machinery”, consider that a vehicle is a one ton machine traveling 50 mph down the road, and is actually the machine with the most opportunity for user error out there. Encourage your senior family members to speak with their doctor and pharmacist about any adverse affects of taking that medication, or combination of medications, that may impair their driving.
- “My Eyes Aren’t What They Used to Be”: Seniors might not recognize that their vision or hearing might be fading. For instance, my grandmother had the TV booming one day at her house and had no idea how loud it was because her hearing had started to slip. She simply turned the TV to a level she could hear, not realizing that the volume was very loud for the rest of us. If she was driving, she wouldn’t hear a fire truck coming in time to move, or hear a horn beep. Seniors sometimes don’t realize their physical abilities are reduced until it’s too late.
- “Quick on Your Feet”: Similar to physical abilities, reaction time and cognition when driving are hugely important as a driver, but those capabilities are often affected as we age. We have all had to swerve when a driver suddenly comes into our lane, quickly change lanes when a pedestrian is walking on the side of the road, or slam on the breaks when a driver decides to turn without using their signal. In those cases, which happen everyday, you have to be quick on your feet. If your reaction time is slower, or your cognition is not as sharp, you crash into that car or hit that pedestrian.
- “Middle of Nowhere”: Active seniors may not have adopted technology, and many still drive without a cellphone. Roads change, neighborhoods evolve, new buildings come up, and the town your senior family member may have known well suddenly looks very different, and therefore getting where they need to go just became more confusing. Law enforcement will tell you- a senior will crash on a back road or get lost in an unknown part of town and be sitting in their car panicked, upset, and without a way to call for help.
It’s always worth having a conversation with the senior driver in your family, or their doctor, to get a feel for their abilities so you can ensure they’re fit to drive. If they are, consider a splitsecnd device for their vehicle. splitsecnd was designed to bring peace of mind to families. Our seniors are enjoying their retirement, actively a part of their communities. By putting a splitsecnd device in their car, a senior has that guardian angel incase the worst happens, be it they get lost, have a medical emergency, are involved in a car accident, or just anytime they need help or feel unsafe on the roads. Through the splitsecnd dashboard you are able to use vehicle locator to see where your senior family member is, such as in the case that they don’t know where they are. Use the trip log to see their routes, and set boundaries to be notified when they leave the house, get to the doctor, or arrive at church. splitsecnd is there for you and your loved ones, 24/7!