This Week Is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Certain medical problems place older adults at an increased risk of car crashes.

From the Harnett County Department of Public Health

One in six drivers in the United States are 65 years old or older. Driving helps older adult persons 65 and older stay mobile and independent. The week of Dec. 4-8 is recognized as Older Driver Safety Awareness Week according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials with the Harnett County Health Department.

Older adult drivers are more than twice as likely to report having a medical problem that makes it difficult to travel as compared to drivers ages 24-64. However, as we age, declines in vision and cognition and physical changes may affect driving.

Certain medical problems such as heart disease, dementia, sleep disorders, and limited hearing and vision place older adults at an increased risk of car crashes. Additionally, medicines, both prescription and over the counter, such as those used for sleep, mood, pain, and/or allergies among others, may affect driving safety. Older drivers are also at an increased risk of being injured or killed in a crash due to frailty and underlying health problems.

Four in five older adults take one or more medications daily. Physical changes that occur with age can change the way the body reacts to medicines, causing more side effects and affecting the ability to concentrate and drive safely. Older adults can take steps to stay safer on the roads.

Tips To Stay Safe

Here are some steps that older adults can take to stay safe on the road:

• Discuss your medical problems with your doctor to determine if they might affect your driving.

• Discuss stopping or changing your medications with your pharmacist or doctor if you experience any side effects that could interfere with safe driving such as blurry vision, dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, fatigue, and/or loss of consciousness.

• Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Wear glasses and corrective lenses as directed.

• Plan your route before you drive.

• Consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend, or car ride services.

For more information, log onto the Harnett County Health Department’s website at www.harnett. org/health or call the Health Department at (910) 893-7550.

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