Cognitive functioning is the intellectual activity that includes mental processes. These functions include the ability to pay attention, one’s processing speed, memory, multitasking, and the ability to switch focus. When it comes to driving, most would agree that the aforementioned functions are necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle. However, many healthy adults will experience some decline in cognitive function as they age.
Recently, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a study examining the link between serious car accidents and the levels of cognitive function in older drivers. The research included over 2,000 participants, aged 65 and older, who were tracked for a period of almost seven years. The study revealed that lower levels of cognitive functioning were linked to a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury, fatality, and significant property damage.
Unfortunately, there are no proven methods available to determine crash risk related to the levels of cognitive functioning for older drivers. Before determining when a loved one should turn in their keys, it may be important to consider that when older adults stop driving, the loss of freedom and independence can lead to feelings of resentment, isolation, and depression. Adults who give up their driving privileges are often prone to declining health and may enter long-term care facilities earlier than their driving peers.
Keeping Older Drivers Safe
Eighty-six percent of the population aged 65 and older currently hold a driver’s license, and that age population is expected to double in the next forty years. This represents an increase from 40.2 million to an estimated 88.5 million by 2050. Every individual is different, so when evaluating the appropriate age to stop driving, older drivers, family members, and healthcare providers may be forced to weigh the safety benefits with the possible consequences that loss of independence could cause.
If you are currently concerned about your own driving safety or that of a loved one, the National Institute on Ageing discusses the common difficulties that affect older drivers and offers strategies to increase safety. When it comes to compensating for a slower reaction time, try the following tips:
- Leave more space between you and the car in front of you. This will eliminate braking issues if the other driver comes to a sudden stop.
- Begin braking early when you see a stop sign, red light, or traffic ahead.
- Avoid congested areas or rush-hour traffic.
- Drive in the right-hand lane. Traffic moves more slowly there, giving you more time to make safe driving decisions.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Offer Aggressive Representation for Those Injured in Car Accidents
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, our compassionate legal team understand that this tragedy can be overwhelming. The Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. can handle the details, so you do not have to. To ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation available, call us today at 803-929-3600 or contact us online. We provide free confidential consultations.
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