Driver safety requires more than understanding road signs and traffic laws. As you get older, you’ll likely notice physical changes that can make certain actions more challenging. Still, older drivers can remain safe on the road. Consider these tips for older drivers.
• Stay physically active
Staying physically active improves your strength and flexibility. In turn, physical activity can improve driver safety by making it easier to turn the steering wheel, look over your shoulder, and make other movements while driving and parking.
• Schedule regular vision and hearing tests
Some senses, such as hearing and vision, tend to decline with age. Impaired hearing can be a concern for older drivers by limiting the ability to hear an approaching emergency vehicle or train. Common age-related vision problems also can make it difficult to see clearly or drive at night.
• Manage any chronic conditions
Work with your doctor to manage any chronic conditions especially those that might impact driver safety, such as diabetes or seizures. This might include adjusting your treatment plan or restricting your driving.
It’s equally important to know your medications. Many drugs, including pain medications, sleep medications, antihistamines and muscle relaxants can affect driver safety, even when you’re feeling fine. Don’t drive if you’ve taken medication that causes drowsiness or dizziness.
• Understand your limitations
Consider your physical limitations and make any necessary adjustments. You might ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist, who can offer assistive devices to help you drive or suggest exercises to help you overcome your limitations.
• Drive under optimal conditions
You can improve driver safety by driving during the daytime, in good weather, on quiet roads and in familiar areas. If visibility is poor, consider delaying your trip or using public transportation.
• Plan ahead
Plan your route ahead of time so that you don’t need to read a map or directions while driving. If you use a GPS device, enter your destination before you start driving. While you’re driving, don’t do anything that takes your focus from the road.
• Update your driving skills
Consider taking a refresher course for older drivers.