Safe Driving Tips for Seniors
Driving comes with risks at any age, but older adults have a particularly high risk of injury or death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, more than 700 seniors are injured in car crashes, and 20 lose their lives each day. Drivers over age 75 carry added risk, primarily because they are physically more vulnerable to injuries.
In general, the physical changes that come with aging, as well as reduced vision, cognitive function, and reflexes, all play a part in seniors’ risk on the road. These safe driving tips for seniors will help reduce your risk and give you greater confidence when you get behind the wheel.
Avoid taking unnecessary chances. One of the most important safe driving tips for seniors is simple: eliminate as many risks as possible. Wear your seatbelt. Limit your driving to daylight hours. Avoid distractions like your phone. Never drive under the influence, and always check traffic and road conditions before you leave home.
Monitor your vision and hearing. Seniors sometimes find themselves squinting more often or struggling to see clearly, especially in low light conditions. It’s also quite common for seniors to experience hearing loss as they advance into their retirement years. Your senses play a vital role in keeping you safe on the road. Be sure to have your eyes and ears screened at least once a year and sooner if you notice any significant changes.
Know how medications affect you. Some medications commonly prescribed to seniors do not mix with driving. Any prescription or over-the-counter medication that makes you drowsy or affects your motor function is a red flag for driving. Read labels and talk with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure you understand the potential side effects of any medicine you take and how it might affect your safety when driving.
Keep your muscles and reflexes sharp. Stay physically active and maintain good muscle tone. The nimbler you are, the more likely you’ll be able to react quickly when you’re driving. In the event of a car accident, being in strong physical condition gives you a better chance of a good recovery.
Plan a safe route. It’s easy to get flustered when you lose your way, and that can lead to erratic or distracted driving. Before you leave home, plan your route. Take into account any stops you might need to make, and choose routes that will keep you in safe neighborhoods on well-lit, well-traveled roads, even if that means it might take you a little longer to get from point A to point B.
Brush up on your driving skills. It’s a good idea to get in some extra practice, especially if you drive infrequently or have had some near misses. You can have your driving skills evaluated by a physician, occupational therapist, or family member. The American Automobile Club (AAA) offers an online defensive driving course to help you understand age-related physical changes. As a bonus, some insurance carriers offer discounts for completing these kinds of courses.
Be realistic about your abilities. For many seniors, driving represents freedom and independence. A desire to maintain your autonomy and mobility is understandable. However, if loved ones are worried about your safety on the road, listen to their concerns. Pushing your limits could put yourself and others sharing the road in danger.
Looking for something engaging to do that doesn’t require driving? Get a ride to your nearest Springpoint Life Plan Community. Your Springpoint Choice membership includes access to many of the perks we offer at our communities, including classes, lectures, and events. Contact our team today to learn more.