Many American seniors want to maintain their independence for as long as they can, but living alone poses great risks to their safety.
One cause of concern is driving. Seniors are more likely to adhere to road safety rules such as wearing a seat belt, driving when the weather conditions are favorable, and not driving when inebriated. However, due to illness and medication or, simply, old age, seniors become more prone to road accidents.
The Risks of Driving as a Senior
Older adults aged 65 and up represent 15 percent of all licensed drivers in the United States. Yet, a study found that they cause 7 percent of all two-car accidents, some of which turned fatal.
Meanwhile, in Canada, more seniors have died than any other age group between 2000 and 2015. Within 16 years, 447 older adults lost their lives in a traffic accident per year.
These statistics prevent senior drivers from successfully taking out an insurance policy for their cars. However, the likelihood of accidents, as well as the more frequent incidences of traffic violations, make it more challenging for seniors to be financially protected in case of a crash. Seniors should speak with a high-risk auto insurance agent to determine their options.
There are dozens of things that can be done in order to reduce the risk of vehicular accidents among seniors. Although they might not agree with hiring a driver or asking a family member to drive them around, they can utilize these technologies that make driving much safer for whoever is behind the wheel.
Forward Collision Warning
Front-impact collisions are one of the most common. In 2016, vehicles that hit another vehicle in front or an object on the side of the road accounted for 54 percent of all serious crashes.
This can be avoided with a forward-collision warning system that can alert the driver as soon as a potential accident is detected. The system will automatically apply the brakes of the car in order to save the driver and passengers, as well as the driver and passengers of the other vehicle, from injuries or death.
Previous studies found that the introduction of the technology into the market might reduce crashes by up to 20 percent.
Newer models of consumer vehicles are already equipped with the system. However, old cars can purchase a forward-collision warning system that can notify the driver before a crash. Mobileye’s cameras and software can recognize other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, trees, and other objects outdoors. Garmin’s Dash Cam 35 also has the capacity to monitor the vehicle and trigger audio and visual alerts before a possible collision.
Seniors that find it more challenging to park their own vehicles, especially in tight spaces, are at risk of bumping into another vehicle, object, or wall. Aside from property damage, the accident might hurt a passerby or injure the driver.
A self-parking, which might sound like science fiction, exists now in select cars. It works by observing its surroundings through cameras and sensors then taking over the steering wheel to position itself in the empty space. It eliminates the anxiety of having to park in a small space. It also further reduces the possibility that the senior driver will crash and get hurt.
A slightly less advanced but still helpful technology is parking assist with the rear-view display. It makes backing up easier, especially for seniors, because they no longer have to make estimates. They also come with a warning system that alerts the driver when there is an obstruction behind them.
In case of a vehicular crash, it is crucial that the emergency hotline should be alerted to send authorities on the site as soon as possible. It is a matter of life and death. The quicker the people involved get medical attention, the better the outcome will be.
Some vehicles are already equipped with their communication technology that detects a crash, one that requires the airbags to be deployed, and automatically calls for help. It does not need the driver or its passengers to dial 911. The car itself will blast a notification, which includes information about the vehicle and the crash, to relevant services. It uses its GPS to locate the scene of the accident.
The best way to prevent vehicular crashes is to assess the health and capacity of senior drivers. They should address their vulnerabilities. For example, if they are taking medication that has drowsiness as a side effect, they should not drive after taking it. If they are experiencing joint pains, they should visit the doctor before driving again. These safety precautions minimize the likelihood that a senior driver will become involved in an accident, get hurt, or die.