Ingenieur Vol. 74 Ingenieur Vol 72, April-June 2018 - Page 34

INGENIEUR Advanced technology in modern vehicles could be a factor causing older drivers to have a harder time handling a car as they might be slower to adapt to new technologies in modern cars. They might also forget to upkeep regular car maintenance. These factors could contribute to slower reactions or an inability to respond to problems when facing difficulties on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) (2016) a survey conducted on 2,500 drivers aged 65 and older found that drivers with reported impairments in memory, vision, mobility and health conditions such as arthritis or diabetes were more likely than other drivers to self-limit their driving by making fewer trips, travelling shorter distances, or avoiding night driving, driving on interstates or driving in ice or snow.  This statement supports other research showing that many older drivers self-limit their driving. Some seniors do not self- regulate or adjust their driving, even those with high levels of cognitive impairment.  The GHSA also found that older drivers commonly face impairments in their visual, cognitive and motor abilities. These impairments (see sidebar) can put older drivers’ safety at risk and reduce their life expectancy. Recommendations Provide ‘old driver sticker’ Stakeholders should provide special stickers to older drivers as disabled people because older drivers also face various difficulties. Other road users should be more understanding and be more tolerant of this age group because of their health conditions. This could be accomplished by having a sticker other drivers can see. Attend driving courses Education and training are important ways to inform older drivers that their physical and cognitive changes which will impact their abilities are part of the ageing process, therefore they should choose safer vehicles. Driving schools should provide refresher courses to update the skills of older drivers. In addition, other parties such as doctors, family, and engineers should get more involved and collaborate on easing the 6 32 VOL 2018 VOL 74 55 APRIL-JUNE JUNE 2013 Impairments Vision Sufficient visual acuity and field of vision are critical for safe driving but tend to deteriorate with age. Glare, impaired contrast sensitivity, and increased time needed to adjust to the changes in light levels are problems commonly experienced by older drivers. Common mistakes Common mistakes by older drivers include failing to stay in the correct lane, failing to yield to the right of way, misjudging the time or distance needed to turn in front of traffic, failing to stop completely at a stop sign and driving too slowly. Cognition Driving requires a variety of high-level cognitive skills, including memory, visual processing, attention and executive skills. Medical conditions such as dementia and commonly prescribed medications for older people have a significant impact on cognition. Motor Function Motor abilities such as muscle strength, endurance and flexibility are needed for operating vehicle controls and turning to view traffic. Even prior to driving, motor abilities are needed to enter the car safely and fasten the seat belt. Changes related to age and diseases such as arthritis can decrease an individual's ability to drive safely and comfortably. The issues raised tell us that older drivers should be given better attention. Although we cannot force them to change, we can make some recommendations to help them feel safer and more comfortable on the road.