Healthy Older Drivers Make Mistakes Too

According to an article in MSNBC from My Health News Daily, a new study suggests that aging is associated with an increase in crucial driving mistakes, even among healthy people with safe driving records.
The oldest people, between ages 85 and 89, made four times as many critical errors in a driving test than the youngest people ages 70 and 74.
Those mistakes included:
  • veering
  • failing to check blind spots
  • speeding
  • tailgating
  • sudden braking without cause
None of the volunteers had any signs of dementia, all lived independently and drove at least once a week. They were taken out for a 12-mile drive. A professional driving instructor and an occupational therapist rode along.

Men and women made the same number of mistakes in the study. The most common mistake were:
  • failing to check blind spots
  • veering across lanes of traffic
  • failing to use turn signals

Older drivers made up 7.5 percent of fatal car crashes and 3.1 percent of all car accidents in the United States in 2008. The CDC has some tips for older drivers:

  • Review medications with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure there are no side effects that can impair your driving ability.
  • Get your eyes checked at least once a year, and always wear glasses or contacts while driving, if needed.
  • Plan your driving route before you start driving.
  • Don’t tailgate; leave a large distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Avoid distractions such as cellphones, loud radios and eating.
  • Consider public transportation if you don’t feel safe driving.