Senior Citizens Behind the Wheel

Senior Citizens Behind the Wheel
Many concerns have been expressed about the potential dangers elderly drivers present when operating a vehicle. Mental and physical capabilities begin to decline as a person ages. When their health deteriorates, the well being of other individuals on the road is at stake. Many elderly drivers should not drive due to their medical history and the fact that they might suffer from possible side effects from taking multiple prescription medicines. In addition, local organizations and neighbors can provide transportation for the elderly to keep them from endangering themselves and others. The threat senior citizens create when driving can be avoided if they are tested to ensure their competence as a driver.Driving is a privilege that should not be taken lightly when people?s lives are at stake. The article, "Elderly drivers: what are the dangers?," from Page Wise, Inc. states driving depends heavily on a "person?s physical and mental health as the years pass" (pwi 1). The body becomes weaker with age, and functions, such as hearing, become impaired. A study from the aarp indicates that about thirty percent of drivers over the age of 65 have hearing problems (pwi 1). Hearing is essential in driving well. Hearing allows a driver to listen for potential hazards hidden from view because of an obstruction or a blind spot and it allows a person to listen for approaching sirens from an ambulance, fire truck, or police car (pwi 1). Moreover, reflexes are not as quick as a person ages. Many older people cannot respond fast enough when presented with a dangerous situation. When reaction time is lengthened, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Senior citizens are more likely to acquire continual diseases that may foster poor driving skills. The "prevalence of chronic diseases [?] may complicate driving" (pwi 1) and it could potentially end up being fatal for other drivers as well as the elderly. Arthritis is a common ailment among the older population. It places strain on joints making it difficult for senior citizens to walk or move; it may also cause posture to become inadequate, thereby impairing driving capabilities (pwi 1). Parkinson?s disease can also interfere with driving. This disease causes muscle strength to diminish, and it produces a loss in coordination (pwi 1). Medication is used to control diseases and other common health problems, but prescription medication may have "side effects or drug interactions [that] can effect driving" (pwi 1). Some senior citizens take several types of medicine, and they must take them for long periods of time. Benzodiazepines are an anti-anxiety agent that many elderly drivers take on a regular basis. In a Canadian study, researchers found that drivers from the ages of 67 to 84 who take long lasting benzodiazepines are at risk more those not taking the medications (pwi 1-2). Many of them ignore the warning labels about operating heavy machinery (pwi 2). Research shows that "effects of [?] drugs are amplified among the elderly" (pwi 2) because metabolisms slow with age. Doctors encourage patients not to drive when taking benzodiazepines.

The dangers most elderly drivers create can be prevented. Older people may consider driving the "last connection to freedom and independence" (pwi 2), but this belief encourages them to drive when they are unfit to do so. In this case, using alternative modes of transportation is ideal as a solution. Public transportation, such as bus services, is an option for traveling long distances. Some churches offer transportation to the elderly for free. In addition, an older person can ask his/her children or a neighbor to drive him/her around on errands for a small fee. Delivery services for groceries are available in some places. Delivery saves a trip out onto the roads (pwi 2-3). Additional methods of transportation are beneficial to a senior citizen when he/she presents a driving hazard.

Senior citizens create risks when they drive in an unhealthy state. Diseases and other illnesses emerge because of old age. Medication prescribed by doctors can interact with other medicine and create side effects. As a person grows older, hearing often becomes impaired. This sense is essential to being an adequate and safe driver. Driving with these medical ailments can prove to be fatal to both the elderly and other motorists, and it can cause other drivers to be at risk for accidents. Testing the elderly to confirm their competence as drivers should be mandatory due to their failing health and for the safety for other motorists.

Senior Citizens Behind the Wheel 9.4 of 10 on the basis of 805 Review.