How is driving ability affected by age?

It's no secret that bodies change as people grow older. Some of these changes can even affect a person's ability to drive, which leads to a higher risk of crashes and serious injuries. MedicineNet.com explains how the natural aging process impacts driving and what older motorists must do to ensure they aren't involved in a serious collision, which could potentially harm themselves as well as others. 

Your senses play an important role while driving. Vision disorders like glaucoma and cataracts tend to affect older people at a more frequent rate. Additionally, these disorders tend to progress slowly, which makes it harder for a motorist to identify that they have a real issue. Hearing loss is another serious matter. If a driver is unable to hear a horn while driving they run the risk of making a maneuver that may have deadly consequences. 

Cognitive problems may also play a role in driving ability. Alzheimer's and other cognitive disorders cause a person to forget things, which can include the proper way to operate a vehicle, while also impacting one's awareness of traffic laws. In the early stages, a driver might make numerous mistakes that friends and family chalk up to mere forgetfulness. As cognitive issues progress, real lapses in thinking can also occur. This is where the situation becomes dangerous for everyone on the road. 

Many older people also take medications to keep health issues in check. Some medications, many of which are commonly prescribed, cause impaired judgment and carelessness, similar to imbibing an alcoholic beverage and getting behind the wheel. Medications also cause drowsiness. Driving while tired is frighteningly similar to driving while drunk, and can have the same devastating consequences should an injury occur. 

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