Health can affect the way older people drive

Published on October 23, 2015, by Matthew Sharp

Car Accident

Health can affect the way older people drive

Many notice when an elderly person causes problems while driving. However, a driver’s health is more important than the his or her age. Studies show a correlation between people with certain health problems and a higher risk for automobile accidents. A study showed that in 2012, there were close to 36 million licensed drivers over 64 years old. The same study showed that 5,560 older adults were killed in auto accidents and over 214,000 were injured, with fatal crashes start increasing for those aged 70-74. A Reno car accident attorney can help determine if the other driver in an accident is at fault due to health conditions.

What health conditions can affect driving?

There are some health conditions that may have more of an effect on driving. Those may include:

  • Vision changes or diseases
  • Hearing changes
  • Physical changes
  • Changes in attention and reaction time
  • Other health conditions
  • Medications

A Reno auto accident attorney can be of assistance if any of these are suspected in an accident with an older person.

Vision changes or diseases

Whether it’s age or genetics, eyes don’t see the same forever. People with problematic eyes may need more light or more time for their eyes to adjust making nighttime, dawn and dusk driving more difficult. By age 60, 3 times as much light is needed to see. This is because pupils that shrink and don’t dilate as big. Headlights, street lights and the sun can cause difficulty in seeing people or objects. When peripheral vision- the ability to see things on the side while eyes are looking ahead- is affected, it narrows field of vision.

Some eye diseases that can affect driving are glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration, which can distort central vision and cause a loss of sharp vision. These are all diseases that become more common as people age.

Hearing changes

Many people experience some hearing loss as they age. Changes in hearing can make hearing emergency vehicles, horns or noises the car is making challenging. All these sounds warn people of possible danger and it is important to be able to hear them.

Physical changes

Getting older is difficult on the body. Joints stiffen and muscles weaken.More pain comes and walking becomes harder. Perhaps a driver cannot turn their head or look behind them to back up. These can all make driving harder.

Changes in attention and reaction time

Aging can cause reaction time to slow. Managing dangerous situations while driving gets harder. A number of things can cause diminished reaction time. Some of those causes include side effects to arthritis, causing concentration to decrease, and a ability to concentrate decreasing. Another motor skill that decreases with age is the ability to multi-task, doing two things at the same time. Contact a Reno car accident attorney for assistance with this.

Other health conditions

There are a number of other conditions that can have an affect on the way an older person drives. Some of these can be:

  • Diabetes: with blood sugar levels off, a driver can feel sleepy, dizzy or confused. In some cases, a person with diabetes can lose consciousness or have a seizure.
  • Arthritis- a person with arthritis can experience stiff, swollen joints. This can limit movement in their body. As a result, pushing the brake or gas, steering the wheel putting on their seat belt or getting in and out of the vehicle can be affected.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia- those drivers with these disease don’t always realize they are an unsafe driver. The driver can get lost or need a lot of help with directions.
  • Stroke- can affect the driver’s speech, thinking and body control. One sided paralysis or weakness can happen, causing difficulty in using the car’s controls, drifting across lanes or confusion.
  • Parkinson’s disease- this disease can cause shaking in the arms, hands or legs, thus affecting balance and movement. The person’s ability to react quickly, turn the wheel or push the brake can be diminished.

A Reno car accident attorney can help determine if a different health concern has caused an accident.


As people get older, generally, the number of medications they take increases. Many of those medications have side effects, such as tiredness, dizziness or nausea. These can be caused be over-the-counter medications, such as cold medicines and antihistamines or from prescription medications, such sedatives, hypnotics, and antidepressants. The way our body reacts to certain medications can change as we get older, as well. Not taking medications can cause driving ability to be affected. If medications have played a role, call a Reno car accident attorney.

Age and health can cause a person’s driving to be affected. For people who are involved in auto accidents involving an older person, calling a Reno car accident attorney can help.