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Seniors, falls and driving outcomes: a correlation?

If you’re out motoring on a busy California roadway, would you rather be surrounded on all sides by teen drivers or motorists of a relatively advanced age?

That is, of course, a loaded question, and perhaps not a particularly fair one.

Nonetheless, we ask it, given that it would reasonably seem to serve as a logical segue to today’s blog post entry, which focuses upon senior drivers.

We suspect that many readers of this post might opt for scenario number 2 above, namely, having a few white-haired denizens behind the wheel in nearby vehicles.

And the reason for that is certainly clear enough: Although it is hard to downplay the superior reflexes of teen motorists, quick-twitch muscles are hardly the end all when it comes to safe driving. And many seniors command in spades multiple attributes that are known safety-inducing catalysts.

Things like learned caution. A keen appreciation for the likely outcome of a serious driving error. The downsides inherent in tailgating.

In a word, judgment.

A recent article notes, though, that notwithstanding the comparative wisdom that many mature drivers bring to the task, the progressive onset of age does bring some points of concern regarding senior drivers.

In particular, a study recently released by the California AAA cites a link — potential and, in some cases, actual — between a senior’s multiple falls and an increased likelihood of behind-the-wheel crash risks.

That association is simply logical. A history of falling can mean that doing physical things is presently more of a task than it used to be. When falling becomes a problem, it is likely that things like poor balance and vision impairments are implicated.

Every driver is different, of course, and any follow through on such a study must focus on a case-by-case analysis. What AAA suggests generally is that a relatively older driver who has suffered from one or more falls be medically examined and consider programs such as driver-improvement courses and fitness activities that improve flexibility.


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