Given that older drivers are more likely to be involved in automobile accidents, what can we do about it? The National Institute on Aging provides the following questions on helping older drivers assess whether they should consider stopping driving:
- Do other drivers often honk at me? Have I had some accidents, even if they are only “fender benders”?
- Do I get lost, even on roads I know?
- Do cars or people walking seem to appear out of nowhere?
- Have family, friends, or my doctor said they are worried about my driving?
- Am I driving less these days because I am not as sure about my driving as I used to be?
- Do I have trouble staying in my lane?
- Do I have trouble moving my foot between the gas and the brake pedals, or do I confuse the two?
What can an older driver do to ensure they are as safe as possible? The NIH has some suggestions on helping older drivers with that as well.
- Drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission, large mirrors, and extensive safety equipment, including side air bags and traction control;
- Stay active and exercise to keep strength and flexibility;
- Have your vision checked regularly and stay current with prescriptions, including glasses;
- Avoid driving at night if you have difficulty seeing in the dark;
- Have your hearing checked regularly. Get a hearing aid if you need it and use it when you drive. Keep it as quiet as possible in the car when you drive;
- Leave extra space between your car and the car in front of you;
- Brake early when you need to stop;
- Avoid congested areas if you can. Plan your route to avoid complicated intersections;
- Drive in the right-hand lane, where traffic moves more slowly;
- Take a driving safety or refresher course. The AARP, and AAA can help you find a class nearby;
- Talk to your doctor or a family member about any concerns, especially you become confused while driving;
- Pay careful attention any warnings on your medications;
- Don’t drive if you do not feel well or if you feel light-headed or drowsy;
- Avoid driving in bad weather.
Many families struggle to decide when and how to approach helping older drivers, especially with the decision about continuing to drive. It can be difficult balancing the independence driving brings with the clear dangers associated with older drivers. The AARP has some excellent suggestions if you need to have “the talk.”
North Carolina, like many states, has special rules for older licensees. North Carolina drivers who are 70 years of age or older when their driver’s license expires generally must renew their license in person at a DMV office. Licenses issued to North Carolina drivers aged 54 and older are valid for five years.
Finally, in North Carolina, anyone, including doctors, family members and law enforcement officers may report potentially unsafe drivers of any age to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ medical evaluation program. The NC DMV can revoke licenses, require medical reports, or impose restrictions on trips and time of operation.
If you are involved in a car accident in Cary, NC, or Raleigh, NC, or elsewhere in North Carolina call Cary Personal Injury Attorney Kevin Bunn for your free consultation.