December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Since there are so many celebrations this month, it’s a good month to talk about the dangers of impaired driving and what you can do to reduce the risk. If your elderly loved one is still driving, talking about impaired driving is wise this month. It’s not only a good time to talk about the danger he may put himself and others in if he chooses to drive while impaired but to also remind him to keep an eye out for other drivers out there who may be impaired. Having help from a home care provider could contribute to addressing this issue.
The winter months can be especially dangerous to have impaired drivers on the road because inclement weather conditions can complicate a trip a lot. Add on being impaired and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Here are four main contributors to impaired driving.
Alcohol. Alcohol slows response time, impairs vision, and reduces muscle coordination, all of which are important aspects of safe driving. Your loved one may also find that as he ages, especially if he doesn’t routinely drink alcohol, a single strong drink now affects him more strongly than it did when he was younger, causing him to be impaired when he gets behind the wheel. If your loved one is planning on attending any event that may involve an alcoholic drink or two, he should plan for a designated driver like his home care provider or plan to take a driving service home.
Drugs and Medications. While drug use will affect a person’s ability to drive safely, many people don’t consider prescription or over-the-counter drugs as a danger. It’s important that your loved one understand the side effects of any medication he needs to take. Some medications can slow response time or cause drowsiness, making driving dangerous. Some drugs may be okay on their own but when combined with other drugs or alcohol, they cause serious impairment.
Drowsiness. Driving while drowsy leads to more accidents than most people know. If feeling tired, your loved one might have trouble focusing on the road ahead of him, or take long blinks that cause him to miss important signs or someone pulling in front of him. When feeling tired, avoid having your loved one drive while impaired by providing a ride for him, or having his home care provider bring him to where he needs to go.
Distractions. One of the biggest distractions in our modern world is the phone. While a wonderful device to have on hand in case of a car breakdown or becoming lost, it can also pull your loved one’s attention away from the road ahead of him. Remind your loved one of the importance of being pulled off of the road with the car in park before ever using his phone in the car.
Driving does get more difficult for many as they age, and adding factors that can contribute to impaired driving can make it deadly. Plan ahead by having home care providers and family members help your loved one with transportation whenever needed.