A geriatrician who spoke at an Australian conference has said that research suggests older people are just as dangerous behind the wheel as young hoons.
Geriatrician David Lussier spoke at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists‘ annual scientific meeting in Adelaide, and said that due to the deteriorating cognitive and physical abilities and the likelihood of being on strong medications, older people are just as dangerous as a young person being reckless.
Older people are more likely to be on some form of benzo’s (benzodiazepines), which impair your vigilance and reaction times. Blood pressure drugs, tricylics (for depression or anxiety), and painkillers such as morphine and oxycodone are also commonly prescribed to people over 60.
Lussier also spoke about the cognitive attention driving demands, and says that older people have a harder time with multi-tasking, which driving requires:
“Driving requires a lot of divided attention because you have to focus on what you’re seeing in front of you, as well as to the right and to the left of you. And you have to coordinate that with what you’re doing with your hands and feet. It’s a very complex task,” he said.
And finally, Lussier believes that a common cause of accidents is bad judgement, or taking too long to make a decision – which unfortunately, can be fatal when driving. He offered the example of an 86-year-old American man, who drove straight through a farmers market killing 10 people and injuring 70, all because he mistook his brake for the accelerator and did not correct the mistake in the necessary time.
Now, your Granny and Grandpa are probably going to give you a right telling-off if you say this to them. So, just keep this to yourself and bask in the fact that science is behind you – old people are often terrible drivers. We knew it.