As they age, responsible seniors adjust their driving habits to fit with their abilities. When they can no longer perform a driving task well, such as driving at night or for long distances, they get help from family, friends and home care assistants. However, one area of operating a motor vehicle that many seniors are in denial about is when they drive distracted.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month which means that people everywhere are committing to making the roads safer by pledging not to drive distracted. For family caregivers with elderly relatives that still drive, it’s important to make this pledge together because seniors are a major contributor to distracted driving statistics across the country.
Seniors and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving causes thousands of accidents, injuries and deaths each year and those numbers are climbing. In 2015, distracted driving caused nearly 400,000 injuries and more than 3,400 deaths alone. Seniors have a higher risk of getting involved in traffic accidents anyhow, and distracted driving increases that.
Elderly adults often reach a point where they are no longer physically or mentally capable of operating a motor vehicle safely. Family caregivers should frequently evaluate their loved one’s driving abilities, including how they handle distracted driving. If a home care assistant is frequently with the elderly adult, family members can also ask for their observations on the situation.
Sometimes with age, an elderly person’s judgement is negatively affected, and they may choose to do things while driving that they wouldn’t normally do. If family caregivers or home care assistants notice behavior that could lead to distracted driving, it’s important that they take steps to
Top Causes of Distracted Driving
During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, family members and seniors should look at their own driving habits and promise to do better by looking at the top causes of distracted driving. Although every age group can drive distracted, seniors face special challenges.
Across the board, the leading cause of distracted driving for all age groups is cell phone use. Recent studies show that talking and texting while driving contributes to 10 – 13 percent of distracted driving crashes. More than 60 percent of elderly drivers admit to using cell phones while driving. Adding cell phone use to other distractions due to age and ability means that seniors are risking their own lives and the lives of others.
Other causes of distracted driving include eating, drinking and smoking while driving. It only takes a few seconds to cause an accident due to taking a hand off the wheel to adjust a wrapper or light a cigarette. Seniors also drive distracted when they have hearing and vision problems. For example, if they are struggling to hear a passenger’s voice or the radio, they are not concentrating on driving. Other causes include unfamiliarity with the vehicle, drowsiness from medication, slower reflexes due to aging and physical issues like arthritis or tremors.
Seniors should commit to following safe driving habits that include reducing or eliminating distractions. If for some reason they are not able to continue driving, a home care provider can offer transportation to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, social activities, the YMCA, and more. Homecare providers can also offer companionship, light meal preparation, medication reminders and ambulatory assistance for your parent who may be struggling with aging in place as well as driving.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING HOMECARE IN DALLAS, TX, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE TODAY. CALL (214) 272-2188.