Drivers throughout Pennsylvania often struggle with terrible road conditions during the winter months. Ice and snow can create slick surfaces and strong winds can lead to white-out conditions. Younger, less experienced drivers have historically been considered more at risk in these hazardous conditions. Recently, however, many organizations warn elderly drivers of the dangers of winter driving.
While elderly drivers might have the depth of driving experience needed to overcome dangerous road conditions, physical limitations can impede their safety – and the safety of other drivers on the road. These physical changes can include:
- Arthritis is common among older adults which can make it harder to grip the steering wheel and adjust to slipping or sliding on ice.
- Muscle weakness can also impact an elderly driver’s ability to scan the environment from side to side. This could mean it is harder to recognize danger and adjust to changing conditions.
- Visual acuity can diminish with age. This can lead to difficulty recognizing objects in the peripheral vision as well as distinguishing people, objects or other vehicles present against a dark background.
- Older adults might experience various degrees of hearing loss. Trouble hearing can make it difficult to identify various environmental warnings such as horns or sirens. Additionally, elderly drivers might find it difficult to hear mechanical trouble with their own vehicles such as the thump of a flat tire or a clunk coming from deep within the engine.
In addition to physical impairment, elderly drivers can suffer cognitive challenges. Whether this is tied to a medical diagnosis such as dementia or side effects of numerous medications, successfully navigating a motor vehicle through harsh weather can quickly become a challenge.
Motor vehicle collisions can leave lasting physical injuries and lead to expensive car or truck repairs. Mounting debt, combined with lost work, can lead to financial peril for someone injured in a crash.