Staying mobile is important to seniors. As we age, driving can become more challenging. Being safe on the roads requires more than just obeying the laws and reading road signs. Some of the physical changes that come with getting older can make previously simple actions (like craning your neck to check for oncoming traffic) difficult. Growing older doesn’t mean you have to stop driving, but many older drivers voluntarily change their driving habits to accommodate some of the challenges associated with aging.
Here are some tips for staying safe on the road as a senior.
Being physically active helps you maintain flexibility and strength. Regular exercise can improve safety for senior drivers by making it easier to look over your shoulder, turn the wheel and many other movements necessary for parking and driving. Stay active and include exercise in your regular routine.
Manage any conditions
Ask a doctor for assistance with handling any chronic conditions and how they may impact driving. Ask for a thorough explanation of any medications that are being taken and how they could potentially affect driving. Obviously, no one should drive after taking medications that cause drowsiness or dizziness.
Check vision and hearing
Schedule regular hearing and vision tests. Driving is more dangerous for the hearing impaired, and many vision problems that are common for seniors (macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts) can make it very difficult to drive at night.
Choose when to drive
Take some of the challenge out of driving by only getting behind the wheel in good weather and sticking to quieter roads in familiar neighbourhoods. Avoid driving at night and during rush-hour. If you’re tired, stay off the road.
When you get behind the wheel, focus all of your attention on driving. Don’t use your phone, eat or get distracted by the radio. Plan how you’ll get to your destination ahead of time. Set up your GPS or look at maps before you start driving.
Keep your skills up to date
Consider a driving course or workshop for seniors that can help you learn new ways to address age-related driving challenges.
It’s important to know when it’s time to consider alternatives. If you become confused behind the wheel or begin to feel concerned about your ability to drive it may be time to reassess the situation. Look at your options for transportation and ways you can continue to be mobile. Giving up the car keys doesn’t have to signal the end of independence.