By Emily Raunig

December 6-10 is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. Late in life, you or a loved one may begin having difficulties driving. During this time, it’s essential to recognize why older drivers struggle more and how to take appropriate safety precautions while driving.

Even though removing someone’s driving rights can feel like stripping their freedom, it’s sometimes the only option.

Here are some reasons why older people struggle to drive and suggestions for making the road safer.

Aging and How it Affects Driving

According to NHTSA, people 65 and older made up 20% of all traffic fatalities in 2019. What about aging makes someone’s driving ability decrease?

As a person ages, their physical, sensory and mental abilities decline, making driving more difficult. As you age, you may also develop medical conditions affecting your eyesight, sleep or memory. Because of certain medical conditions, the elderly are more likely to take multiple medications. According to the CDC, four in five older adults take one or more daily medications. Multiple medications at once can impair one’s judgment and make driving more of a task than it used to be.

Ways to Stay Safe on the Road

  • Plan your route before you drive. This will allow you to get to and from your destination without figuring it out on the road.
  • Have your eyes checked once a year by an eye doctor. This helps you determine if your eyesight could be affecting your driving abilities. If you have any eyesight issues, wear contacts or glasses.
  • Have a family member or friend ride in the car with you. This allows them to observe how you are driving and if you struggle with things that could affect your or others’ safety.
  • Install adaptive equipment into your car. This could be a pedal extender, swivel seat, or anything that helps you drive easier. In today’s age, many new driver assistance technologies help safe driving. These include emergency brakes, lane assistance, backup cameras and more. These new technologies can help keep you and others safe on the road.
  • Have auto insurance. TrustPoint Insurance & Real Estate’s Auto Insurance can cover car-related damages or injuries. It can also help protect you in case of a lawsuit involving your car. Make sure to keep yourself and others protected by purchasing auto insurance.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week acknowledges the role that driving plays in an older citizen’s life. While there are many ways to stay safe on the road, sometimes the safest thing for someone is to get off the road. There are still ways to stay active in your community without a car.