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Older drivers' skills affected by aging process

Wines and some cheeses get better with age. Texas residents' driving skills — not so much. That's why older drivers need to understand how the aging process can potentially affect their driving skills.

There are physical changes associated with aging that can cause drivers to be at less-than-optimum performance behind the wheel. It's noted that drivers older than 54 tend to accrue many of the same traffic violations, including:

  • Turning improperly
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Failing to properly enter and exit the interstate
  • Switching lanes inappropriately

Many older drivers' violations are linked to the physiological changes of the physical body that negatively impact driving skills. For instance, our vision changes as we get older. At age 50, adults' eyes take in just 50 percent of the light that they did at 20.

Accordingly, night vision is far less acute and some drivers struggle to cope with cataracts that create a veil or glare. Vision may seem cloudy due to floaters appearing in the eyes. Also, older drivers are less able to focus on things right in front of them. Macular degeneration is another problem. It causes decreased centralized vision, while glaucoma reduces peripheral and vertical visual fields and may induce tunnel vision.

Below are some safer driving tips for older motorists.

  • Increase the frequency of eye exams
  • Avoid driving after sundown
  • Avert your eyes from oncoming headlights
  • Clean the headlights and the windshield often
  • Allow more distance between the car bumper ahead and their vehicle
  • Rely more on car mirrors to remain aware of traffic
  • Plan trips to dodge rush hour
  • Smoking is an unnecessary distraction — don't light up behind the wheel
  • When driving long distances, pull over for a short break at each hundred-mile segment

Remember that if an older driver causes a wreck that leaves you with injuries, you have the right to seek compensation from the insurance company providing coverage for the at-fault driver.

Source: Texas Department of Insurance, "Aging and Driving," accessed Oct. 13, 2017

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Brian Jensen

Representation in the Houston Area with 3 Convenient Locations:

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Frost Bank Building, 6750 West Loop South, Suite 800
Bellaire, TX 77401

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