Spain is undergoing an growing aging process, with 20% of individuals aged 60 or older. As a result, in future years, the percentage of people aged 80 and older will increase substantially.
This group will surpass by far the half million people in 2010, with the consequent increase in diseases associated with aging such as atherosclerosis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and particularly dementia.
The driving habit is essential in the elderly so that the withdrawal of the driving license is a traumatic situation that can accelerate all the aging processes.
It is not a matter of prohibiting the elderly to drive, but to promote all necessary means so that they continue driving with the lowest risk for them and for other drivers.
Signs of aging interfering with driving
Comparing the number of collisions by age groups, based on the kilometers run or daytime and night driving, it has been shown that the number of night crashes among those aged 85 years or older is three-fold that of those aged 65 years or less.
Mistakes in crossroads and when changing lanes are the most important defects presents in most accidents in these elderly people.
The presence of chronic diseases in the elderly person is related to a higher accident rate. Furthermore, the use of drugs, particularly antidepressants, is associated with a higher number of accidents.
The elderly who walk little, less than 100 or 200 meters a day, are those suffering more accidents due to diseases of the feet, difficulty in bending the knees and slow walking.
The joints become rigid and muscles weaken, which hinders turning the head, moving the steering wheel or braking safely.
Hence, many elderly people can have a healthy appearance because they do not suffer diseases or these are mild, but aging is unavoidable and can have a great impact on road safety.
Aging and its problems for driving
- It affects the cognitive ability of traffic and car rules.
- It reduces visual and auditory capacity.
- It limits the neuromuscular ability in motor strength, coordination, time to reaction, and manual skills.
- It hinders the integration of these activities with driving.
- Many elderly people are not able to assess adequately their ability, either for the abuse of substances, alcohol, drugs, or by dementia of stable or progressive nature.
- Do not drive at night or at extreme hours of the day at dawn or at sunset.
- Rest every hour and a half and insofar as possible drive short distances.
- Monitor self-medication and adjust the dose according to the age and physical state.
- Recommend periodic sight revisions.
- Increase visual, hearing attention and precaution.
- Use, if possible, cars with assisted direction, automatic gear, large-surface pedals and large rearview mirrors, both inside the car and outside at both sides of the car.
- Go in time to psychophysical examinations to renew the driving license.