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Aging drivers can be a risk - Essay Example

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Being older does not necessarily mean a person is a bad driver.Yet the facts remain that aging affects mobility,reflexes,and sometimes,mental capacity,and these are real risk factors.Research supports this and has also shown how eyesight and hearing can deteriorate with age…
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Aging drivers can be a risk
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Editorial: Aging Drivers Can Be a Risk Being older does not necessarily mean a person is a bad driver. Yet the facts remain that aging affects mobility, reflexes, and sometimes, mental capacity, and these are real risk factors. Research supports this and has also shown how eyesight and hearing can deteriorate with age. The National Institute on Aging states that:
"As you get older you need more light to see things. Also glare from the sun, oncoming headlights, or other streetlights may trouble you more than before. The area you can see around you (..peripheral vision) may become narrower."
These facts leave little doubt that senior drivers need to ensure that they monitor their driving competence with honesty, seek advice from doctors and listen to concerns of family and friends, and seriously think about giving up driving. Incidents such as that reported by CBS in February 2007, when,
"an 84-year-old driver plowed through an elementary school lunch room
killing an 8-year-old boy"
This might have been avoided if senior drivers had to look for alternatives in transportation. There have been other incidents - there could be more.
Many would argue that not every elderly person experiences problems, and it is true to say that people age differently. It would seem unfair to apply an upper age limit. The car is a lifeline for many seniors living alone; it may be their only way for shopping and socializing, so preventing them from driving could be seen as denial of liberty. While seniors can take steps to reduce the dangers by having medical checks and, as suggested by the National Institute on Aging, "Take a driver refresher class every few years". (NIA, n.d.), there are still too many risks involved for all concerned. Some insurers may reduce costs if a person passes the class, but even if they do, they still need to recognize "it is time to give up driving." Perhaps legislation should follow the lead of Illinois and New Hampshire, where a test is required for license renewals after the age of 75 years. Elderly drivers really should not be on the roads, given the evidence on the results of aging and deteriorating capabilities.
This need not be the end of freedom, but a step towards self-protection and the safety of others. Those no longer able to drive do not have to become housebound; many groups exist that help to take seniors out, a way of making new friends. Some areas have cheap bus or taxi services for older people's use. Local Area Agency on Aging can provide all the information to help elderly people get around and keep an active, happy lifestyle going. Walking is another healthy option that can add to the quality of life.
Aging and its effects on physical and mental capabilities is a fact of life. The increased risks to driving pose a real threat, so seniors need to take the right actions to ensure their own and the safety of others. Giving up driving may prove to be a liberating experience; no more fear of bumps, or stresses on mind and body, and the potential to enhance fitness with more gentle walking exercise - all positive results of leaving the car behind. Using other transportation services can open doors to new friendships and more social interaction. It can be fun to smell the flowers, talk to folks, take it slow, and get out of that little metal box on wheels that could spell danger.
While decisions are up to the individual, there is little doubt that risks do exist and that these increase with age, as proven by research and statistics. If further fatalities and accidents are to be avoided, and everyone's safety enhanced, then it is time for senior drivers to look at all aspects of the situation and make the best and most well-informed choice and give up driving. It is not the end of freedom, but the opportunity for a better, safer and less stressful lifestyle.
References
Bound for Your Good Health: A Collection of Age Pages. Older Drivers, (180-183)
(n.d.) Retrieved October 10, 2007, from: http://www.niapublications.org/pubs/PDFs/Esection4-Staying%20Safe%20and%20Planning%20Ahead.pdf
How Old is Too Old to Drive (2007, February 3) CBS News. Retrieved October 10,
2007, from: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/03/health/main2428859.shtml Read More
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