Aging While Driving: Making Roads and Cars Safe for the Elderly
Driving can become harder as a person gets older. This is partially because your reaction time slows, your eyesight can wane and your cognitive function could start to decline. However, there are ways in which technology may be able to make both cars and roads safer for older drivers.
Self-Driving Cars May Be Available in the Future
While there is some debate as to when a truly self-driving vehicle will become available, it is likely to offer many benefits when it’s finally released to the public. The main benefit is that a computer will understand concepts, such as maintaining a proper speed for road conditions. It will also understand how to maintain a safe following distance, as well as how to stop at a stop sign or red light each time it encounters one.
Advanced Safety Features Are Already Available
As we wait for self-driving vehicles to make their appearance, features are already available to make driving safer. For instance, a forward-collision warning system will slow or stop the car if an accident is imminent. This may be ideal in situations when you can’t hit the brake fast enough. Lane keep assist technology can prevent you from drifting into another lane or colliding with the center median. For elderly folks, even a minor accident can cause serious injuries, so preventing even a minor crash could safeguard their quality of life.
If you want to design roads to be safer for the elderly, you should strongly consider using roundabouts. They force all drivers to go slower, which reduces the odds of a crash. If one does happen, it’ll happen at a low enough speed that it won’t likely cause significant damage or injuries to anyone involved. An older person is less likely to make a wrong turn if road signs are clearly labeled with big bold letters. That person may also be less likely to miss a crosswalk or other landmark if it is labeled clearly. Adding additional lighting can also make it easier to see at night, and this may be true no matter how old you are.
To ensure you or your elderly relatives are safe behind the wheel, proper car maintenance is a must. This is especially important in winter, as deflated tires don’t grip slippery roads well and low batteries can struggle in the cold. Check your car’s manual to ensure that you are keeping up with oil changes and maintenance schedules, and be sure you have the right tires for your car. For instance, if you drive a Nissan, it’s important to get Nissan tires from a reputable dealer. By ensuring your car has proper upkeep and maintenance, it lowers the risk of an elderly person getting stranded when they may not have the physical capabilities to fix a tire or restart their engine.
Elderly drivers may be at a higher risk of getting into an accident despite their extensive experience behind the wheel. However, changes in vehicle technology and road design might minimize the chances an older person gets into an accident. These changes may prevent you from getting into a crash when you’re elderly yourself.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, NM. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan.