seniors driving an RV

As the roads become slick with snow and ice, our attention is drawn once again to the importance of driver safety, especially for older adults. Driving is an important part of mobility and independence for many seniors, but the risks associated with driving increase with age. According to the CDC, an average of 586 older adults are injured in car crashes every day. Though driving can become more dangerous with age, there are a few steps that seniors can take to help them stay safe on the roads.

1. Yearly checkups

Eyesight and hearing can deteriorate slowly over time, and the subtle changes from month to month may be hard to recognize. However when your sight and hearing are impaired you may not realize that you’re missing out on crucial driving cues, like sirens or stop lights. To help ensure your safety, it’s recommended that you get your sight and hearing checked at least once a year. A doctor can then prescribe up-to-date corrective lenses or hearing aids that will help you stay alert on the road.

2. Understand the side effects your prescriptions

Certain medications have adverse side effects that can impact your driving. Many medications cause drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, etc., and you should talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe to drive after taking them. Your doctor will be able to identify potential problems and make recommendations for the best amount of time to wait before getting behind the wheel.

3. Get plenty of sleep

Drowsiness impairs driving for people of all ages. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, those who sleep for 6–7 hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those who sleep for 8+ hours. You should take care to get sufficient sleep in order to be fully alert. If you feel drowsy before driving, it’s best to find an alternative form of transportation or to postpone your activity for another time.

4. Find the right car

Not all cars are created equal in relation to safety, and as you age, you may want to trade in your car for a safer and more reliable model. Choose a car that offers power brakes and steering as well as an automatic transmission. Visit a mechanic for necessary and scheduled maintenance, and be sure that the windows are always clean and the headlights are functional to ensure maximum visibility.

5. Discover your community resources

Many seniors don’t want to give up driving in part because they don’t know of other viable alternatives. Before the time comes to stop driving, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the other transportation options in your community. You may want to try out Uber or ride on local buses, metros, or shuttles to better understand the cost and comfortability of various ride options. You may find as you do this that you prefer these alternative methods, which are often more economical and social than driving yourself.

6. Understand the effects of aging on driving

Though it may be difficult to decide to stop driving, it’s important for your safety and the safety of others that you monitor your driving quality as you age. You may need to take precautions, such as avoiding driving at night or staying away from fast-moving traffic. If your friends and family begin to comment on your driving, you should take time to very seriously evaluate your driving ability or consider receiving a professional evaluation to ensure that you’re in a good condition to drive.

 

There’s no right time or age to stop driving. Safety should be your priority, and as you follow these simple tips, you’ll be able to keep yourself and your community safe on the roads.