The ability to drive is an important element in maintaining oneâ€™s independence as we age, but the older we get the harder it is to continue driving safely. Old age brings about slower reaction times, impaired judgment and physical limitations. There are safe driving tips that elders can use to extend their ability to drive safely, however. These tips include:
- Avoid driving at night if you have trouble with your vision, and donâ€™t tint your windows.
- Avoid driving during periods of high traffic, typically during morning, lunch and evening commute times.
- Keep your windshield, headlights and mirror clean to improve visibility.
- Raise your seat high enough so you have a clear view of the road. Sit on a small pillow if necessary.
- Limit distracting noise inside the vehicle. This includes the radio and conversations with passengers and use of cell phones.
- Watch for flashing lights of emergency vehicles if you have difficult hearing. Stay alert.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead so you have ample time to brake if necessary.
- Brake early, before you need to stop.
- Avoid left hand turns when you can. Sometimes a few right hand turns that would put you on the road you want. When you must make a left hand turn, try to do it where a green arrow will provide a safe turn.
- Keep windshield wiper blades in proper working condition.
- If possible, drive a car with an automatic transmission. These cars allow the driver to focus more on his/her surroundings and less on the actual operation of the vehicle.
- Get periodic vision and hearing tests to make sure your senses are as keen as possible. Get hearing aids and new glasses when needed.
- Take a defensive driving course offered through the AARP or the American Automobile Association. Some insurance policies offer price discounts when individuals take these courses.
- Carefully read medication labels to see if they may impair driving skills.
- Donâ€™t drive if youâ€™re feeling tired, lightheaded or stressed.
- Avoid driving during inclement weather.
- Use other transportation services such as taxis and buses if youâ€™re unsure of your ability to drive safely.
- Drive on familiar streets and limit trips to those close to home.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Keep your headlights on at all times.
Wondering when to give up (or take) one’s keys? Click here.