Common medical conditions that can impact older drivers

Many older drivers in the U.S. are very active on the road. But as you age, you may find yourself experiencing certain medical conditions – and consequently, your driving abilities may change.

Nobody wants to cause an accident or be a danger on the road. Therefore, it’s imperative that you recognize certain conditions that can negatively impact your driving skills. Here are some common age-related physical and mental conditions that could affect you:

  • Poor eyesight: Cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma can all greatly impact your eyesight – and make driving more difficult. You should be able to comfortably read road signs and monitor your surroundings when driving.
  • Trouble hearing: When you’re driving, it’s critical that you can hear emergency vehicles, horns or other vehicles accelerating nearby. But hearing loss is common in older drivers.
  • Dementia: It can be very risky to drive with dementia. In the early stages, some people may still able to drive safely – but it’s important to recognize when it’s time to stop.
  • Slower reaction time: Many older drivers may experience delayed reaction times. This can be as dangerous as driving drowsy.
  • Mobility issues: Operating a vehicle requires coordination, dexterity and a little strength. But as you age, your joints may stiffen and your muscles may weaken – which can make driving hard.
  • Epilepsy: This neurological disorder can make having a seizure at the wheel likely.

On top of these conditions, many elderly drivers take medications that can affect their driving. Therefore, it’s important that you carefully read the warning labels on your medication before driving. You should avoid driving if you feel lightheaded or sleepy after taking your medication.

It’s never easy to know when it’s time to change your driving habits – or stop driving altogether. But understanding the conditions that may negatively impact your driving can help you make these decisions.

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