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Driving safely

Created date

July 26th, 2011

According to the American Medical Association, the safety of older drivers is a growing public health concern. Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 65 to 74 year olds and are the second leading cause (after falls) among 75 to 84 year olds. None of your doctors can write you a prescription for safe driving, so why should you involve them in your decision about whether to relinquish your keys? Your primary doctor and any specialists who are involved in your care are in a good position to detect changes in your health before they interfere with your driving ability. Many factors can interfere with your driving capabilities, among them medications and medical conditions, particularly those that contribute to problems with vision, hearing, flexibility, reflexes, and judgment. Your doctor can help you preserve your driving skills by making sure you are at your optimum overall health and function. To keep you safe on the road, the remedy could be as simple as adjusting a medication in order to improve your function, flexibility, or your mental acuity. If driver safety is felt to be an issue, a physician may recommend further evaluation by a driver rehabilitation specialist or a road test evaluation by the department of motor vehicles. Physicians cannot forbid you to drive, but we can make recommendations. The ultimate decision about your ability to drive and your safety on the road is made by your state s department of motor vehicles. While it s sometimes difficult for doctors to have this conversation with you (especially if you or your family members don t believe that driving is a problem), we can t keep silent and risk you having an accident and sustaining serious injury. Please keep in mind we are not only protecting you but also contributing to the public s safety and health. Your doctor can also help you ease the transition from driver to passenger by helping you find driving alternatives. Don t be afraid to bring up the subject of driving at your next appointment. You may be surprised to find how helpful your medical provider can be. In good health, Dr. Narrett

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