According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents reportedly claimed the lives of more than 5,700 senior citizens in 2014. Is there any more recent study than 2014? Accidents involving older drivers resulted in the need to treat an additional 236,000 patients in emergency rooms. Every day, on average, senior drivers in the U.S. cause the deaths of 16 senior citizens and the injuries of 648 others.- Is this part of the study?
In the U.S., there are over 40 million licensed drivers who are 65 or older. Many of the millions of senior drivers are completely capable of operating a vehicle. But there comes a time for all of us when continuing to drive becomes a mistake. How can we be certain when that moment has come? In this brief article, we will explain what an elderly driving evaluation is and how it can help determine when it may be wise to stop driving.
What is an Elderly Driving Evaluation?
Your ability to drive safely can be assessed by a thorough driving evaluation conducted by a qualified specialist.
Such a driving review by a qualified expert is an impartial procedure for determining:
- Whether you possess the knowledge and skills necessary to drive safely;
- What changes in how or when you drive are indicated, if any;
- What actions you might take to drive more safely and effectively;
- What on-the-job training might be worthwhile to advance your abilities;
Typically, formal driving evaluations last two to three hours. They typically include a clinical assessment (which may include a number of cognitive, visual, and physical exams), an on-the-road test, and either oral or written feedback regarding results. Programs may differ slightly, and some may even include the use of a driving simulator in their evaluation procedure. Some assessments can involve fees, which vary across programs and providers.
When to Consider a Driving Assessment
There are many reasons to consider having a formal driving assessment. For instance:
- You may value having a professional evaluation if you think your driving is safe in order to confirm your judgment.
- You may simply be interested in improving your driving. Going through a thorough examination process can give you a n understanding of your current driving abilities, and areas for improvement along with tips to improve.
- You may profit from a driving evaluation to hone skills and boost confidence if a lifestyle change, such as a recent move or sickness, impacts where or how much you drive.
- Getting a driving “checkup” could be helpful if you want to start driving again after taking a break.
- An evaluation may be helpful if you have one or more medical issues or physical restrictions that could impair your arms’ or legs’ strength, flexibility, or range of motion. It might also give you a plan for therapy and/or assistive technology.
- A driving evaluation can be beneficial if you’ve noticed a loss of depth perception or peripheral vision, among other vision-related changes.
- If you experience other physical changes (your vision is declining, your reaction time is slowing down, your mental dexterity is slowing or you are losing motion flexibility) a driving evaluation can be helpful to assess their impact and provide tips.
- If you have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia but it is still in its early stages, you might not have to stop driving right away. You can discern if you can temporarily proceed to drive safely by having a thorough driving evaluation.
- If you ceased driving following a condition like a stroke, an assessment could reveal whether the stroke had any impact on your capacity to drive safely. Additionally, it can highlight techniques, therapies for physical recovery, or specialized tools that could aid in your return to safe driving.
- If you have been advised to halt or reduce your driving but disagree, getting a second opinion from an occupational therapist who is also a qualified driver specialist may be helpful.
You may get professional recommendations and guidelines for assistive technology that can extend the time you can drive. Some examples:
- Extended pedals
- Wide-angle side and rearview mirrors
- Seat raisers to make getting in and out of the vehicle easier
- Steering wheel spinner knobs or various hand controls
- Extenders for seatbelts
Materials For Formal Evaluations
You might be able to perform a more thorough evaluation of your driving with the aid of a number of community resources. Finding these resources can be made easier with the help of your neighborhood hospital. Look for:
- Programs that specialized in driver rehabilitation occupational therapy
- Programs on aging veterans given by your county or city government and other rehabilitative facilities
- The bureau, department, or administration of your state’s motor vehicles, which may offer unique licensing alternatives or special initiatives
If the time has come for you or a loved one to consider no longer driving, consider having a driving evaluation. Our friends at the Shepherd’s Care of Northern Virginia can help point you in the direction of resources to make sure that safety is at the forefront each time you get behind the wheel of an automobile. Reach out to our professional team today.