Did you know that more older adults are driving than ever before? In general, seniors are safe drivers relative to other age groups. Adults ages 65+ are good at wearing safety belts, observing speed limits, engaging in less risky on-the-road behavior and not drinking and driving. On the other hand, older people generally don’t see or hear as well, are slower to react, and may have trouble making quick decisions about distance, speed and the movement of vehicles around them. Plus, they may have trouble turning to look over their shoulders at other vehicles.
To help assure that you remain a good driver as long as possible, consider these tips:
• Have your vision tested regularly. And be sure to wear any prescribed glasses or hearing aids while driving. Keep your windows, mirrors and headlights clean, and drive only during daytime hours if you have trouble seeing well at night.
• Turn down the radio. When you’re in traffic situations that demand your full attention, minimize distractions such as a ringing cell phone that take your attention away from driving.
• Stay physically active. The goal is to have the agility to turn your body and head in both directions. You’ll want to check for vehicles behind and to the sides of your own.
• Take your medications as prescribed. Read the warning information in case any of them can cause drowsiness or other side effects that could impair your driving. Consult with your doctor regarding medications and health conditions.
• Take a defensive driving course. Another great option: A refresher course designed specifically for seniors. Many communities offer these, and they can be extremely helpful.
• Get enough sleep. Adequate amounts of sleep can help anyone, regardless of age, to be a safer driver.
• Slow down in inclement weather. Adjust your speed for rainy, snowy or icy road conditions.
• Resist the urge to rubberneck. Just as there are distractions inside a vehicle, there can be distractions outside a vehicle as well that can impact your driving. Don’t let your attention wander when passing a crash scene or anything else that’s happening outside your car.
• Relax. Don’t take unnecessary risks to shorten your commute by a few minutes. You could end up spending a lot more time beside the road. Instead, take it easy, be courteous, and know that you’ll get to your destination safer and less stressed.
• Manage distractions. If you plan to drive on congested streets, make sure that your attention is always on the road. Avoid talking on a cell phone, sending text messages, eating messy foods, or putting on makeup in the car. Your chances of being involved in a crash will drop considerably by taking those steps. Multitasking behind the wheel dramatically increases your chances of an accident.