Steering Older Drivers to Safety

Seniors, getting older doesn’t make you a bad driver but there are changes that may affect driving skills over time. By becoming aware of these changes, knowing the warning signs that age is interfering with your driving safety and incorporating safe driving practices you can continue driving safely long into your senior years.

Follow these tips so you can continue driving safely long into your senior years.

Affects of aging that impact the abilities of elderly drivers:

  • A slowdown in response time
  • A loss of clarity in vision and hearing
  • A loss of muscle strength and flexibility
  • Drowsiness due to medications
  • A reduction in the ability to focus or concentrate

Warning signs that age is interfering with driving, according to the AARP, include:

  • Almost crashing, frequent close calls
  • Getting lost, especially in familiar locations
  • Trouble following traffic signals, road signs and pavement markings
  • Slow response time
  • Becoming easily distracted or difficulty concentrating

Tips for safe driving at advanced ages:

  • Avoid driving at night and, if possible, at dawn or dusk
  • Drive only to familiar locations
  • Avoid driving to places far away from home
  • Avoid expressways (freeways) and rush hour traffic
  • Leave plenty of time to get where they are going
  • Don’t drive alone

Driving is an important element in maintaining one’s independence, be proactive now by discussing your driving ability (e.g. visual, cognitive and physical) with your family physician or healthcare provider during annual visits. Check out resources such as AARP and AAA for more information on safe driving practices and tools to help you evaluate your driving ability.

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