When you’re behind the wheel, you have control over how fast you’re going and what you pay attention to when you’re on the road. You have full responsibility for your kids’ safety. But what about when your parents are behind the wheel?
While getting older doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get into a car accident, the risk of being involved in an accident increases significantly as you age. So how can you make sure your kids stay safe while they’re in the car with grandma and grandpa?
Establish whether or not there’s an issue
According to the American Automobile Association, 50% of the middle-aged population and 80% of the population in their 70s suffer from some type of joint inflammation. This makes turning the wheel and twisting to check mirrors and blindspots painful on the road.
Other issues for older drivers include: reduced flexibility, limited range of motion, weaker muscles, and limited grip. This is partly the reason why 70% of Americans turning 65 will need some type of long-term care in their lifetime.
That said, if your parents have begun to develop chronic issues such as arthritis or other mobility problems that are impacting how they drive and react on the road, it may be a good idea to talk to them about their safety behind the wheel. Up to 3 million people are injured in car accidents annually in the U.S., and those accidents can be especially dangerous for kids and older drivers alike.
Talk to your parents about safety guidelines
According to a 2011 study, grandparents were just as likely as parents to make sure children in the vehicle were safely strapped into the car. But grandparents were also less likely to conform to vehicle experts’ latest safety recommendations.
Researchers found that grandparents were out-of-step with expert safety recommendations 25% of the time compared to the 19% of the time for parents.
It’s recommended that you make sure your parents know how to properly strap in their grandkids, how to use your child’s car seat correctly, and how to use booster seats. It’s also recommended for both parents and grandparents alike to have a good understanding of experts’ latest recommendations on child passenger safety.
Make sure your parents are staying on top of their health
Regular check-ups are important when it comes to keeping yourself in good driving shape, and the same is true for your parents. As your parents get older, it becomes critical that they’re getting their eyes and hearing checked every year and that they’re getting plenty of sleep. Drowsy driving is dangerous for any driver of any age.
As your parents get older, an occupational therapist may be able to prescribe them with equipment that can make it easier for them to steer and operate their vehicle’s foot pedals. It’s also a good idea to make sure the vehicle’s windows and headlights are clean and that the vehicle receives regular maintenance.
It’s important that your kids are safe when they’re on the road, no matter who it is that’s driving the car. But when your parents get older, the risk of them getting into an accident increases. By talking with them and going over safety precautions together, you make sure your kids stay safe on the road even when you’re not the one behind the wheel.