Because April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, many state and local organizations are sharing information about the dangers of distracted driving. If you have an elderly relative that still drives, it’s especially important that they review with you the factors that lead to distracted driving.
Not only are senior drivers more likely to get into a car accident the older they get, they may be dealing with distractions they don’t even realize. You, family members, friends and homecare assistants should also take the time to evaluate the elderly person’s driving abilities and their judgement behind the wheel to ensure they are safe on the road.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving causes thousands of injuries and fatalities every year, and the sad thing is that most of these accidents were completely preventable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounts for around 4,000 total deaths annually and nearly 400,000 injuries.
Cell phones are responsible for many distracted driving accidents. One survey revealed that more than 60 percent of elderly drivers admitted to speaking on their cell phones while driving. Texting, eating, smoking, drinking and adjusting the radio in the car can also contribute.
Seniors Are Especially Impacted By Distracted Driving
Family caregivers and elderly drivers must do everything they can to reduce or eliminate instances of distracted driving. That way, seniors can ensure their focus stays on the road and they have a better chance of traveling safely. Sometimes, senior drivers feel like they don’t need to worry about distracted driving because they’ve been fine for years behind the wheel. However, that shouldn’t prevent family members from discussing the importance of avoiding distracted driving.
The most common distraction for seniors while driving is when they focus on something in the car besides the wheel. Eating, smoking, drinking, cell phones and car features like the radio become a problem when they attract the driver’s attention. If the driver is focused on what’s in their hands, they aren’t as focused on the road or on other traffic.
Other distractions can be conversations with passengers, daydreaming, strong emotions like crying or yelling, and the side effects of medication. For many seniors, diminished vision and hearing can also become distractions as they strain to use their senses to stay safe while driving. A decline in cognitive abilities can further compromise an elderly person’s ability to drive safely. Sometimes with age, physical or mental decline can cause a lack of judgement, which means the elderly person should not be operating a motor vehicle.
If there are enough signs and signals that your elderly relative is driving with distractions that they cannot overcome, it may be time for a serious talk. If the consensus from family members, homecare assistants, friends and others in the community is that the elderly person is a risk on the road, it may be time to look into other transportation options.
No matter what approaches you and your elderly relative take to avoid distracted driving, you should take the opportunity to use the information from April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month to pledge to do better while on the road. It’s worth it to drive safely and save lives.
If you or an aging loved one are in need of Homecare Services in Emmaus PA or the surrounding areas, contact the caring professionals at Extended Family Care of Allentown. Call today at (610) 200-6097.
Carole gained most of her formal managerial training by attending Pennsylvania State University in pursuit of her degree in Health Policy and Administration. She attributes her informal training to have been acquired on a more personal level. Carole understands first-hand what families may experience when allowing a home care provider access to their home while providing care to their loved one. She was a caregiver for two of her grandparents until their passing and believes in the importance of allowing family members the opportunity to remain in the comfort of home if they so desire. Carole is also the mother of a child with multiple medical conditions who requires nursing services in the home. It is because of her personal experiences that Carole understands first-hand how important it is to manage a quality, high-integrity home care agency in which clients and families can place their trust and be confident they are receiving the best care possible. Carole also believes in the importance of giving back to the community. Therefore, she volunteers and spear-heads fundraising activities for a variety of charitable and professional organizations, namely the Pennsylvania Home Care Association, Autism Speaks and Avengers Baseball, Inc.
Carole, a resident of Lehigh County, is married and has 2 children. In her free time, she is the “team mom” for her son’s tournament baseball team, enjoys cooking, spending time with her family and friends, and is an avid NY Giants, NY Yankees and Penn State football fan. Carol is a verified Google Author
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