As seniors fear having cognitive function or blurred vision for their comfort’s sake, another prime reason to fear these issues is that their keen driving abilities have decreased as well. You need to be sharp mentally and physically to hit the road at all times. These two reasons, along with side effects from prescription medications, are the leading three reasons that seniors are in auto accidents.
According to the CDC, “Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase notably after age 80.” So aside from wearing your seatbelt, here we review a few senior driving tips that can save your life and others.
1, Take a Driving Improvement Course
Did you know there were driving improvement courses specifically for seniors? Talk to your insurance agent as they may offer a course or can refer you. These courses are offered online or in a classroom setting. As the technology implemented on cars increases, you’ll learn all the latest driving techniques to handle them. In the end, you may even receive an additional insurance discount. Wouldn’t that be nice?
2. Know What You Are Comfortable Handling
Some seniors feel they always need to prove themselves. It’s either proving to your loved ones that you are in total control or proving to yourself that you are not old as everyone thinks. However, this frame of mind can surely be dangerous.
You should never put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you know your eyesight is not as well during thunderstorms or snowstorms, you should opt out of driving at that time. Many young adults have difficulty, so there is no shame in doing so. If you are uncomfortable driving fast and keeping up with traffic, avoid highways and find alternative street routes. Leave early enough to allow yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments.
3. Work With an Occupational Therapy Practitioner
As the founding organization of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) knows how to keep seniors safe while on the road. They strongly believe that through occupational therapy, seniors will be able to learn the skills they need to tackle the roads today.
Typically, you’ll find an occupational therapist at a senior’s home, providing rehabilitation services and helping them move around their home safely. The same holds true with the rules of the road. They can help them find out the necessary tools they need to survive, keeping themselves and others safe.
4. Keep Regularly Scheduled Exams
You should have a close relationship with your physician and eye doctor. It’s important to know you are healthy when getting behind the wheel of a car.
Your physician will help gauge if you are healthy enough to drive. Sometimes seniors have too many issues such as diabetes or blood pressure that cause being behind the wheel too dangerous for themselves and others. It can, of course, be controlled with medications, but you’ll never know unless you visit your doctor.
Your eye doctor will help determine any early signs of cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. They can help you with the perfect eyewear, for daytime and nighttime driving. You need to be able to read all highway and street signs as well as determine traffic-light colors. More than your own life depends on your accuracy.
5. Avoid Taking Medications While Driving
Another thing to consider is taking medications and driving. Even if it does not state it will make you drowsy, take a prescription a few times to see how your body reacts to it.
6. Use Your Mirrors and Signals
There is no excuse to not use your vehicles safety features. For one, make sure you realize, it’s not just you on the road. Use your turning signals to let other travelers know your intentions. Before pulling off each time, ensure your rear and side view mirrors are adjusted well. It’s the little things such as a change of coat or different shoes that can change your normal view.
7. Use Adaptive Equipment When Necessary
There are many changes that affect your body as you age. This in turn can affect your driving skills and mental awareness of your surroundings.
Some impairments can be overcome with a few adaptive equipment pieces. For example, hand controls are available for those who have trouble using the foot pedals. A siren detector is a good tool to have for those whose hearing is not as good as it once was.
• Low effort steering
• Extra or extended mirrors
• Swing-out seat
• Traction control sensors
• Backup camera
• Seat cushions
• Foot pedal extensions
The above seven tips are easy to implement and a great start towards saving your life. Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share?