No matter how much we fight it, aging is part of life. Eventually the signs of age start taking shape. Hearing and sight are common senses that we often take for granted when we’re active twenty year olds, yet many find these are the first to start deteriorating as we age. When you have been a driver for a long period of time, it is hard to recognize the signs that your eyesight, hearing and reflexes are starting to fail which can lead to unsafe driving and potential car accidents.
As Vancouver car accident lawyers, we’ve seen many cases where collisions occur as result of impaired mature drivers. Those who are 70 years and older are more likely to be involved in car accidents than any other age group over the age of 25. However, just because your hair has changed from black to grey doesn’t mean that you have to hang up your keys and learn to take the bus. On the other hand, it does require that you take responsibility to ensure you’re not a risk on the road. Be proactive and ensure you are still completely functional behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Tim Schewe has been teaching safe driving for seniors for over a decade. He founded the community website, DriveSmartBC, as a public resource and forum to discuss traffic laws and safety. He also teaches a senior driving course at the Vancouver Island University’s Elder College program. His program, including the Klein Lawyers Fast Facts Series and website has many resources for elder drivers. Out of the 25 years he served on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, twenty of them were dedicated to traffic control and collisions. Though he retired in 2006, he continues to advocate and teach road safety through DriveSmartBC.
Courses like the ones that Schewe offers are important resources for our older population. Learning exactly how the aging process affects our ability to drive can help avoid dangerous car accidents in the future. Chances are the last time you reviewed the road and traffic rules was when you were studying for your driver’s license. That means many senior drivers haven’t revisited these materials in decades. This includes understanding driver restrictions related to age and health problems as well as re-learning how to turn at intersections, traffic circles, night driving, freeway driving, and road sign recognition. Pair that with deteriorating vision, impaired hearing and slower reflexes, and it’s a dangerous combination that could end up in car accidents and ICBC penalty points.
Driving should be treated like a doctor’s check-up; you need to test yourself on a regular basis to ensure your ability isn’t jeopardized when you get behind the wheel. As we said before, aging is a part of life. So take care of yours and the ones you love by removing any risk behind the wheel.
As you age you may want to:
- Reduce the amount of driving you do
- Stay in your neighborhood where roads are familiar
- Drive only in the day
- Avoid driving in inclement weather
A few tips for safe driving:
- Have your eyesight checked by an optometrist
- Have your hearing checked by a local health unit
- Check your cognitive abilities using the The DriveABLE Cognitive Assessment Tool
- Take a refresher driving course through a private driving school or with ICBC
- Review the BC Guide in determining fitness to drive
- Review the Klein Lawyers Fast acts videos on safe driving