Warning Signs of Unsafe Driving

Overview

Published: 08/17/2011

by Senior Care Society

Photos

Sometimes unsafe signs can come up gradually, or a recent change in health may hasten problems. Even if the individual warning signs seem minor, together they can add up to a substantial risk. If you are concerned about your own driving or concerned about a friend or loved one, keep an eye out for these warning signs:

Issues with health

Health problems don’t always mean that driving needs to be stopped, but they do require extra vigilance, awareness, and willingness to correct them. Some health problems include:

  • Conflicting Medications. Certain medications or combinations of medications can affect senses and reflexes. Always check the label on medications and double check with your healthcare team if you are taking several medications or notice a difference after starting a new medication.
  • Eyesight problems. Some eye conditions or medications can interfere with your ability to focus your peripheral vision, or cause you to experience extra sensitivity to light, trouble seeing in the dark, or blurred vision. Can you easily see traffic lights and street signs? Or do you find yourself driving closer and closer, slowing by the sign to see it? Can you react appropriately to drivers coming from the back or on the side?
  • Hearing problems. If your hearing is decreasing, you may not realize you’re missing out on important cues to drive safely. Can you hear emergency sirens, or if someone is accelerating next to you or honking the horn?
  • Problems with reflexes and range of motion. Can you react quickly enough if you need to brake suddenly or quickly look back? Have you confused the gas and brake pedals? Do you find yourself getting more flustered while driving, or quick to anger? Is it comfortable to look back over your shoulder or does it take extra effort?
  • Problems with memory. Do you find yourself missing exits that used to be second nature, or find yourself getting lost frequently? While everyone has an occasional lapse, if there’s a pattern that is increasing, it’s time to get evaluated by a doctor.

Issues on the road

  • Trouble with the nuts and bolts of driving. Do you see yourself making sudden lane changes, drifting into other lanes, braking, or accelerating suddenly without reason? How about failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes?
  • Close calls and increased citations. Red flags include frequent "close calls" (i.e., almost crashing), dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs. Increased traffic tickets or "warnings" by traffic or law enforcement officers.