For many senior drivers, maintaining independence as they age often depends on their continued ability to drive. They may retain their driving freedom as they age if they observe safe driving techniques. The age at which people begin to lose their driving ability varies with each individual. Regardless, when it happens, a visually impaired driver risks their own lives and the lives of their passengers, occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and more.
Risk factors include slower motor reflexes, impaired hearing as well as possible health conditions. Deteriorating strength, flexibility and coordination are more factors that affect older drivers’ safe driving abilities.
Gradual vision deterioration
Progressive deterioration of vision is often so slow that the following red flags go unnoticed:
- Inability to judge distance
- Problems with seeing moving objects
- Lack of clear vision in bad weather, at dusk or dawn and also at night
- Higher sensitivity to glare while driving
Although their eyes will be tested when their driver’s licenses are renewed, it is crucial to go for more frequent eye tests than when they were younger, especially when they notice any red flags.
Medical conditions that affect vision
By the time drivers reach age 75, they are likely to notice the early signs of cataracts. Others may already experience the severe effects of advanced cataracts. The following medically-related vision changes may occur:
- Cataracts typically cause a person’s vision to be like looking through a waterfall, posing significant crash risks.
- Glaucoma typically starts developing after age 60, lacking peripheral vision and seeing what appears as halos around lights at night.
- Macular degeneration causes the loss of sharp central vision and distortion of straight lines ahead.
- Diabetes can cause gradual vision loss, which might end in blindness.
Older drivers should have frequent eye examinations because any personal injuries or deaths that occur in motor vehicle accidents caused by their poor vision might make them liable for financial and other damages. If injured victims can establish negligence on the part of the older driver, they could have grounds for filing a civil lawsuit to seek damages recovery from the senior driver.