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Partnership With a Doctor Can Help Protect Older Drivers

May 28, 2015 - Car Accidents by

The decision to stop the elderly from driving is not always clear-cut. Impaired vision, a lack of mental acuity or even recent accidents are often obvious signs to take the keys away. However, changing physical and medical conditions can be subtle.

Even when seniors have managed to drive without incident until now, tomorrow may be the day that an ailment unexpectedly strikes while they are behind the wheel. Families need to actively work with physicians to ensure their elderly loved ones are in prime driving condition.

Doctors Decide When to Test for Driving Impairments

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) released more than 250 pages of instructions to guide medical providers through a full range of testing and counseling procedures for elderly drivers.

Still, the Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers does not dictate a specific age when testing must begin because every person is unique. While one individual may retain the ability to drive well into his or her 70s or beyond, another can develop conditions at a much younger age that impede the ability to drive.

In some cases, doctors may recommend an immediate end to driving for seniors, but they may simply suggest modifications that can keep their patients safe behind the wheel, such as restricting driving to daylight hours only or providing treatment to improve vision issues.

However, North Carolina law encourages physicians to report unsafe drivers. When easy solutions are not possible, seniors may lose their licenses, but they will be safe, along with others on the road.

Families Have the Best Opportunity to Proactively Protect Their Elders

Unfortunately, doctors do not typically see their patients on a daily or even monthly basis. They may not have the opportunity to conduct tests early enough to prevent impending car accidents. In many instances, only family members are close enough to notice subtle signs. As partners with physicians, they can make them aware of areas of concern, such as the following:

  • Indications that their loved ones show increasing signs of confusion
  • Frequent incidents of falling or bumping into things around the home
  • Verbal complaints of headaches, dizziness or even drowsiness after many hours of sleep
  • Medications prescribed by other physicians or regular use of over-the-counter drugs

Even if no notable changes come to mind, it makes sense to express general concerns to doctors so they keep aging in mind during medical exams.

When Accidents Happen, a Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

When it comes to causing an auto collision, the privileges of age do not extend the legal rights of senior drivers. When elderly drivers injure other individuals on the road, they are liable for all damages, even if those damages extend beyond their insurance policy coverage limits. However, in rare cases, medical negligence can come into play when doctors who have the opportunity to diagnose medical conditions that cause impaired driving fail to do so.

It costs nothing to obtain an initial consultation with an experienced attorney who can assess special considerations that can arise in these complex legal cases. Call us at 844-452-3688 or use our convenient online contact form.