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Why do older drivers struggle at night?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Car Accidents

Maybe you’ve noticed your parents no longer want to go very far beyond the confines of their neighborhood after dark – or maybe you’ve started to experience a little trouble driving at night yourself. It’s not unusual, especially if you’re aging.

Older drivers often find themselves facing increased challenges on the road in low light or after dark, and there’s really very little that they can do about it because of the forces in play. 

3 reasons aging presents challenges for mature drivers

Essentially, it’s all about the effects of aging on the eyes. Older drivers start having trouble seeing clearly in dim light or after dark because:

  1. Their eyes are less sensitive to light: The photoreceptors that sense light diminish with age, so older people need more light to see clearly. In addition, their pupils don’t open as wide as they once did due to muscular changes in the eyes, which contributes to the problem with low light.
  2. Their eyes adjust more slowly: Age also makes it harder for the human eye to adjust to sudden changes in light, so older drivers can be easily blinded by bright headlights and streetlights – and equally blinded if they turn off a brightly lit road onto a dim sidestreet.
  3. They’re more prone to cataracts: Cataracts are a thin protein film on the lens of the eye, and they can grow quite slowly. Long before they cause true visual impairment, an older driver with cataracts may start to see “halos” around lights and have trouble seeing through the blur.

These are far from the only reasons that older drivers may struggle to drive safely after dark, but they’re probably the most inescapable. With that in mind, it always pays to be cautious if you’ve noticed problems with your own night vision. Limit your post-dark driving to areas you know well and necessary trips only.

If you are in a wreck with an older driver through no fault of your own, it may be time to learn more about your options to recover your losses.