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As our teens begin to drive, we take the passenger seat while teaching them safe driving skills and the importance of avoiding driver distractions. Sometimes they drive dangerously close to the curb, miss a stop sign, or don’t react as quickly as they should, causing jerky and abrupt breaking. We think this is one of the most difficult times of parenting. But, what about the safety of our aging parents behind the wheel?

Statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections. Aging, no matter how healthy you are, slows down our physical and neurological mobility. As we age, new obstacles present themselves that experience can’t always make up for―vision deteriorates, reaction time slows, and it takes more effort to do the things that used to come easily.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (as my readers know, I hate insurance companies, but sometimes, even the enemy can do a good deed) began a “National Conversation Drive” program in an effort to raise the level of awareness among baby boomers and their children of the driving problems that occur as we age and the need to plan for a time when we should no longer be driving. The program reminded us that as we age, changes take place in our bodies that affect our ability to drive:

· Vision: The lens in our eyes form cataracts and let in less light. We may get macular degeneration and lose our central vision. Depth perception is impaired.

· Cognition: Our judgment and planning skills deteriorate and we react more slowly to sudden changes, such as a car stopping in front of us.

· Motor Function: Our joints lose their mobility, restricting our motion and affecting our ability to move our neck from side to side or quickly move our foot from the gas pedal to the brake.

· Sensory Function: We lose sensation in our hands and feet and our balance becomes impaired.

If a medical problem has been ruled out, then these age may be the attributing factor. Just as we ensure safe driving habits are practiced by our teens, we need to follow the same practice with our parents. Taking a ride with your loved one is probably the most valuable tool. Are they safe? Do you know how they will react in an emergency? Visit Liberty Mutual’s website for Senior Driving and take the Driver Seat Game – the world’s first senior driving simulator. It offers complete mini-games as you drive, park and explore an entire city while experiencing the effects age can have on your driving abilities.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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