Getting older is tough on everyone. With every passing year, the time seems to go by faster than ever. As we age, our driving abilities can become affected – which is dangerous for both ourselves and those on the road with us. Something that once seemed like second nature, like turning your head to look for oncoming traffic, suddenly become more difficult.
However, there are some tips to keep aging drivers on the road safely. Let’s dive in!
Safe Driving Tips for Older Drivers
1. Take stock of your health. Make yourself a checklist and go down the list, one time at a time.
1. Do you have any pain or stiffness? This may affect your ability to turn the wheel or look in the mirrors.
2. Have you been diagnosed with any chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, seizures, etc.)? A chronic condition may affect your safety on the road, so it’s best to discuss this with a doctor before continuing to get behind the wheel.
3. Do you tire easily? Aging drivers may experience fatigue more often than younger drivers, which affects how long you’re able to drive.
4. Do you feel stressed? Feeling stressed can affect other health conditions that may be present in aging drivers, such as heart disease. Again, it’s best to chat with your doctor about the best options for your health as you age.
2. Schedule regular hearing and vision tests. Often times, the bodily systems that we once relied on every day begin to fail us as we age. Vision problems that affect seniors – such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration – make it difficult to see clearly and make it especially difficult to drive at night. Impaired hearing can affect your ability to hear oncoming traffic, such as emergency vehicles or trains. Check with your doctor on how often your vision and hearing should be evaluated, and be sure to stick to your doctor’s recommended schedule (even if you think you’re fine!).
3. Stay active! Often times, keeping your body physically active is the best way to stave off the effects of aging. Staying active keeps your flexibility and strength at the top of its game and may allow you to continue to drive well into your older years. Walking is a great way to stay active, and incorporating stretching and strength training will also help keep your body in peak physical condition.
4. Check your medications for side effects. If you’re managing a health condition with prescription medication, always be sure to read the label and check for side effects of the medication. If the prescription bottle states that you should not operate heavy machinery, do not drive (a car definitely counts as heavy machinery!). If the medication doesn’t list any warnings but you still feel as though your cognitive or physical abilities are affected, contact your doctor – they may advise you to find a different means of transportation while on the medication.
5. Understand and acknowledge that you may have limitations. You can’t do everything you used to do when you were younger, and that’s okay. If you’re having difficulties with your current vehicle, look into swapping it for a vehicle that is more suited for your current needs. For example, if you find driving over potholes or speed bumps jarring, look for a vehicle with a softer suspension to make those a bit easier on you. Cars with larger, easier-to-see dials, odometers, etc. are also popular with older drivers. Additionally, many newer vehicles have built-in systems to help with changing lanes safely, parking, and backing up – all which can help an aging driver maintain their independence.
6. Take a refresher course. You’ve been driving a long time – maybe you didn’t even take driver’s education and your parents or older sibling taught you how to drive one Saturday afternoon! Consider taking a refresher course for older drivers. It will help you stay on top of the current rules of the road, and you might even learn a thing or two! Look for courses available through a community education program or local organizations that serve seniors and older adults.
As we age, we also tend to start driving less frequently. If you’ve recently found that you are driving less, Metromile may be the perfect solution for you. Be sure to get a free quote today and find out how much you could be saving by switching to Metromile!
Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram