Driving Safety Tips for Seniors

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2017.

Staying safe on the road as you get older may take a few adjustments to compensate for age-related physical changes and health conditions. Everyone must take stock of their driving abilities and make necessary changes at some point in their lives. This is the only way to remain a responsible driver who does his or her duty to prevent accidents. There are certain tips senior drivers can use to make the driving experience easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Try taking these steps to improve your driving if you’ve undergone changes in vision, hearing, strength, coordination, or reaction time:

Check Your Vision and Hearing

Visual and audio cues are imperative for safe driving. Your vision is the most important factor of safe driving, but being unable to hear another car approaching, honking, or someone shouting at you can also cause harm. Have a health care professional check your vision every one to two years, and hearing every three years. There are many devices and treatments that can help correct poor vision and hearing, from prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids to surgeries. Do not put off seeing a doctor for fear that he or she will tell you to stop driving.

If you have problems with your vision, avoid driving at night. Keep your windshield and headlights clean. Ask your doctor about glasses with anti-reflective lenses to help reduce sun glare while you drive. If you have trouble hearing, keep the inside of your vehicle as quiet as possible. Avoid the radio or chatty passengers if these pose issues or distract you. Get into the habit of checking the roadway more often for emergency vehicles, other cars, and pedestrians instead of relying on your ability to hear sirens, horns, or shouts. Keeping up with your hearing and vision is a crucial part of roadway safety as a senior.

Enhance Reaction Time

If age has slowed your reflexes, don’t worry. There are things you can do to make driving safe again. Drive at a slow speed that allows you to easily come to stops, and keep to the right-hand lane on highways, where vehicles are moving more slowly. Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you to allow room to brake. Avoid high-traffic areas and busy times of day if possible. Boost your seat height so you can see at least 10 feet in front of you, and scan far down the road to check for obstacles.

Address Physical Changes

Stay physically active to improve your strength and flexibility as you age. Focus on strength, range of motion, flexibility, and coordination when performing exercises. This can improve driver safety, making it easier to move your head and neck, turn the steering wheel, and make other movements while driving. If pain or stiffness interferes with driving, see your doctor for possible remedies. If you’ve been incapacitated with an injury or illness for a period of time, get the okay from your doctor before resuming driving activities.

Know When to Stop

Giving up your driving privilege can be one of the hardest things you have to do in life. There may come a time, however, when this is necessary to prevent an accident. Knowing the signs of when it’s time to turn in your license can help you avoid harming yourself and others. If you have visual and auditory problems medical devices cannot correct, physical or mental conditions that impact driving ability, prescriptions for medications that make driving dangerous, or physical pain while driving, it may be time to stop for good. Turning in your license doesn’t have to mean the end of your independence or mobility – there are plenty of ways to get around without driving as a senior.