Increasing number of elderly drivers raises safety concerns
Today, populations in many countries worldwide are undergoing an aging process. As members of the Baby Boom generation approach the silver tip of their lifespan, they are representing a rapid growing portion of the driving population.
In the US, the figure is expected to triple in the coming 20 years and this is fast becoming a case for concern. Statistics reveal that drivers about the age of 65 are increasingly exposed to the danger of getting into a car accident. Elderly drivers beyond the age of 75 find themselves in greater peril, with a sharp rise in the likelihood of driver fatality.
With age come visual, response, and cognitive deficiencies. These can result in behavioral factors that include lane-drifting, weakened reaction ability in unexpected circumstances, and poor judgment in left turn manoeuvres, thereby endangering the lives of other motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Yet, with the continual expansion of elderly care market, assistive devices with visibility, comfort and control enhancements could potentially be the solution for elderly drivers in the future. Auto-makers such as General Motors (GM) are even contemplating with designs of cutting-edge windshields that utilize lasers, infrared sensors and cameras to enhance the visibility of a car’s surrounding.
As for now, it is important that the elderly balance between independence and safety before making the decision to drive. Although counter-measures such as deficit reporting laws and compulsory driving tests have been meted out to tackle the growing problem, road safety itself begins with every road users.
Experts caution family members to initiate the topic sensitively over a comfortable period of time. Alternate transportations are also recommended to provide their loved ones with other means to get around places.
(Image source: The New York Times)