We can all make a mistake while driving, and we assume that the segments with the least success are the newcomers and the oldest sector. In fact, not a few studies say that we make more mistakes behind the wheel as we get older† For many of us, driving is an important aspect of maintaining our independence as we age. But even if you’re older, does that mean it’s time to hand over the keys?
We all age differently, so there is no arbitrary limit to when someone has to stop driving† However, older drivers are more likely to be fined and have a higher risk of crashes than younger drivers; finally and i’m done, they have time to improve. As we age, factors such as impaired vision, hearing problems, slower motor reflexes and deteriorating health conditions can become a concern.
Aging often leads to a decreased strength, coordination and flexibility, which can rival your ability to drive a vehicle safely. For example: neck pain or stiffness can make it more difficult to look over your shoulder; leg pain can make it difficult to quickly shift your foot from the accelerator to the brake; less arm strength can make it difficult to turn the wheel quickly; and your reaction times decrease as the attention.
According to research published by the American Psychological Associationin the online magazine NeuropsychologyIn 2011, the entity analyzed healthy older drivers and its real-life dynamic performance showed that nearly all types of driving errors increased with age, regardless of the individual’s travel history. The studied study 266 people aged 70 to 88 with no signs of dementia, they lived alone and drove at least once a week.
The participants completed a 19.3 km course through urban and suburban streets in Brisbane† Australia, under the watchful eye of a professional driving instructor and an occupational therapist in the back seat, drivers score several errors. Not checking for blind spots was the most common mistake, but the researchers also noted unintentional lane deviation and failure to use turn signals (although it is an endemic disease at any age).
17% of drivers made a mistake that caused the driving instructor to act, either by braking or gripping the wheel. Also, men were no better than women on tests and errors quadrupled from youngest to oldest participantsage† This does not mean that researchers believed that the elderly should have driving restrictions, but more control, training and alternative means of transport that ensure the safety of everyone.
Let’s take a look at our roads and population data. All over 64s, drivers, passengers and pedestrians, fall within the group of vulnerable people because of: General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), since to their possible loss of psychophysical abilities (sight, hearing, reflexes, attention, etc.) must be added a greater risk of serious injury, even death, than a younger person in an accident with similar characteristics. Actually, the lethality of claims involving the elderly has increased fivefold†
This would explain why, although the over-64s represent 19.6% of the Spanish population and 16.5% of the motorist census, these they reach 26% of deaths in road accidents† We cannot ignore the data on pedestrian deaths either, as more than half (51.6%) and 39.7% of those with serious injuries older than 65 years† This once again makes it clear to us that it is a vulnerable group that needs a lot of attention and that more efforts and resources need to be deployed.
“The psychophysical abilities of the elderly make them react more slowly, both muscularly and mentally, and when it comes to stepping on the brakes, for example, they can’t do it with the same intensity and speed as a young person. The same thing happens when it comes to interpreting what’s going on in your environment, such as glare, which affects older drivers more severely, with poorer visual acuity,” says the doctor. louis montaroProfessor of Road Safety of the University of Valencia (UV)†
What is the age limit to drive under warranty?
n accordance with current Spanish law, the renewal and revision period for a type B driving license is 10 years until reaching age 65† From this point on, it must be redone every five years. The article 13 of the traffic law it only refers to the general driving rules and the requirement to always pay attention, but not to the driver’s “limit” age: “the driver must be able to control his vehicle at all times”.
As such, the driver of a vehicle is obliged to maintain his own freedom of movement, the necessary field of vision and permanent attention to driving, that guarantee their own safety, that of the other occupants of the vehicle and that of other road users† For this purpose, special care must be taken to maintain the correct position and that the rest of the passengers also maintain it, as well as the correct positioning of the objects or animals being transported so that there is no interference between the driver and any of the passengers. them.
What can we do to avoid fatal mistakes?
†There is not one solution, but several and from different environmentssays Montoro. “Pretending that you can only reduce the accident rate of older people behind the wheel with better medical examinations is naive. Studies have been conducted highlighting the need to address multiple factors such as road design and maintenance, the complexity of traffic lights, lighting, the age of their vehicles or their greater difficulty seeing at night.”
You may have ridden all your life and be proud of your record, but as you get older, it is essential that you realize that your ability to drive a vehicle can change† You may feel shocked or overwhelmed at the prospect of losing some of this independence, but by keeping your mind open to new possibilities, you can still maintain an active and rewarding lifestyle. Because driving is not only a matter of age, but also of maintaining skills and aptitude, and of external factors.
Encouraging fleet renewal is essential: “The risk of death in an accident involving a car older than 15 years is three times greater than that of a car less than five years old,” points out the also honorary president of FESTIVAL† We know an older car can be more reliable and more fun to drive, but if there’s one thing they can never beat, it’s safety. Manufacturing methods and materials used have improved exponentially.
Infrastructure improvement both in layout design, clearer horizontal and vertical signage, greater lighting of critical points and accident concentration sections, implementation of containment and safety measures so that they “forgive” errors, and ultimately that they are “friendlier and more empathetic” to the user. Get on develop and improve technological tools that help detect vehicles traveling in the opposite direction. The same applies to complex intersections, exits and additions to the roads.
Conduct psychophysical studiesmore exhausting every two years at age 70, accompanied by a program of traffic control that includes all the skills needed to drive safely, see, hear, reflex or pay attention. In this sense, it should be noted that between 40 and 50% of people over the age of 65 are prescribed an average of five daily medications, many of which are incompatible with driving.
Greater involvement of health systems and primary care to establish a health minimum in road safety material by professionals (SAVIMA)† “In countries like France or Sweden, for example, if the health care physician finds that there is a problem with a patient or develops a pathology that could affect driving, they inform the primary traffic authorities, which is not the case in Spain,” he said. Montoro. “If we don’t know the risks and the dangers, the problem is very serious.”
According to the projection of National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2068 there could be more than 14 million elderly people in Spain, almost 30% of the total population of almost 50 million inhabitants. And possibly most of them will still be driving, which could increase accident rates. But “without considering simply taking their driver’s license awaybecause according to the World Health Organization itself, it is not the law of all or nothing, but to look at the situation and study each case,” emphasizes Montoro.