Harvard Women's Health Watch

Driving safely as we get older

If you're having more trouble on the road these days, it may be time for a driving checkup.

Perhaps something like this has happened to you, or to a family member or friend: You come to an intersection, look both ways, start through — and a car suddenly zooms across your path, horn blaring. You're sure it wasn't there a second ago. Although it can happen at any age, failure to yield the right-of-way is the biggest source of accidents for older drivers.

If you've had a recent scare behind the wheel and you're 60 or older, you may wonder whether age is beginning to affect your driving. Unsafe driving isn't an inevitable consequence of aging. In fact, older drivers have some excellent driving habits (see "Safety features of the older driver"). But drivers 60 and over have more accidents per mile driven than drivers ages 25 to 60. And drivers 70 and over have more fatal crashes than any other age group except teenagers, not just because they're more accident-prone, but also because they (and their older-aged passengers) are less resilient.

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