No one likes the thought of giving up their independence, but that is something many older people have to face as they age. Elderly people may experience declines in both cognitive and physical abilities that make it difficult to live life as they once did. These declines often significantly impact their ability to operate a motor vehicle.

You may have heard that our population is aging. Experts say that almost 7,000 people over the age of 65 died in a traffic crash in 2018, accounting for 19% of traffic fatalities that year. It stands to reason that the number of crashes involving older drivers may continue to rise. Fortunately, whether you are an older driver or just care for someone who is, there are things you can do to prevent these types of car accidents.

Driving safety as you age

Experts say that, if you are concerned about your driving ability as you get older, you can assess your own eyesight and abilities by being honest about whether you’ve noticed changes, such as not being able to read road signs or if driving confuses you. You may want to ask people close to you if they’ve noticed any changes in your driving ability or any abilities that could impact how you drive.

If you think your ability to drive has changed, you may want to have adaptive devices installed to make it easier to drive. You could also consider other modes of transportation, such as a ride share or asking a loved one to take you to where you need to go. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it, and it could save your life or someone else’s.

If you care for an older driver

Taking away the keys is never easy, but it might be necessary if you care for an older person. Sometimes, the person can still drive with slight modifications, such as not driving at night or only going to familiar places. However, if you’ve noticed unexplained dents or scratches on their vehicle or you know they have a health condition that could impact driving, you may have to talk about stopping driving. Creating a plan of action that involves the older driver may help him or her feel more in control.

Though this can be a difficult subject for everyone involved, it is important to be proactive. Avoiding this topic could result in a deadly car accident. Those who have received an injury in a crash with a person who should not have been driving, for any reason, may want to take legal action.