Friday, May 03, 2013

Car Accidents With Elderly Drivers And Pets

OK, here we go... I'm going to make someone angry...

"As reported by NBC News, drivers over the age of 70, traveling with a pet in the car, double their risk of an accident. People who travel with their pets can easily become distracted, which may be dangerous or fatal"

Look, I'm a darned good driver. I drive a LOT. If you don't like driving, and aren't good at it, don't become a dog trainer. That being said, I see a lot of craziness on the roads every day.

I see two types of elderly drivers, the first type are the ones who are still good. The second type are the ones that are so bad they should be off the road permanently. In the Phoenix area, we have a few over 55 communities where it is dangerous. I don't like driving those streets, and I have to be very careful.

I've watched elderly drivers
a.) run right through stoplights,
b.) go way too slow and get other drivers angry with them,
c.) merge over into your lane without even looking,
d.) pull out into traffic without even looking,
e.) had them back right into my car in a parking lot, and then drive off without even  noticing or stopping, and
e.) I had one encounter in a grocery store parking lot where I had to run on foot to get out of the way of the driver as he went straight at me to get into a parking space.

Here's the deal. At some point, you have to accept that your abilities are not what the used to be, and you need to take yourself out of the driver's seat. In some cases, this creeps up on some folks, and the families have to take the keys away from their elderly parents. I have a friend that had to do that with her mom, who began to drive 80 mph in 35 mph zones, and after a police chase, she forced her mom to never drive a car again. Dementia had set in.

Regardless of your age, however, dogs can be a dangerous distraction in a vehicle. You have to know your abilities and your dog's propensities. If you aren't a very good driver, then take back streets, go the speed limit, and be careful. If a dog is in the car, it should be fastened into the back seat with a belt buckle and harness (you can buy them at pet stores). Or, you use a proper crate setup in the back of your vehicle. I also think it is stupid to have a dog in your lap while you drive. You are endangering yourself and others... and for what? Look, if your dog needs some adventure, go for a walk. They don't need to be in your lap while you are driving.

I believe the stats in the article above. The risks are much higher with the elderly, with diminished capacities, and an unrestrained dog in the car. Be wise. And if it's your parent, then maybe it's time to have that talk.


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