Safe Driving Tips For Older Adults

Older adults are safer drivers than some other demographics in that they tend to drive slower, wear seatbelts, take fewer risks and travel shorter distances. However, certain physical and cognitive changes can create challenges that and can lead to accidents. For the 40 million licensed drivers in the U.S. who are 65 or older, it’s important to find ways to compensate for slightly slower reflexes, reduced flexibility and possible cognitive changes. Here are some tips to help you stay sharp behind the wheel and hold onto your car keys.

Check Your Night Vision
The glare from other headlights combined with any impairment in nighttime vision can create big problems in terms of driving safety. If you notice that it’s becoming more difficult to drive or find your way around at night, consider limiting any driving to daytime. For those times when you do have to go out at night, call a taxi or try a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft to get around.

Reduce Distractions
Aging can have an effect on hearing, so look for ways to reduce noisy distractions in the car. Keep the music on low and avoid any type of phone calls (including hands free calls) so that you won’t miss warning horns or emergency vehicles. Also, don’t be afraid to set rules for any of your passengers regarding cell phone use or acceptable noise level for conversations.

Give Yourself Extra Time
Getting from point A to point B doesn’t have to be a race, so give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so that you are not inclined to rush. Allow plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front of yours so that you’ll have a longer stopping distance. Opt for familiar streets instead of selecting only the fastest route. All of these strategies will help to keep your stress levels lower and maintain your driving confidence.

Pay Attention To Car Maintenance
Make sure your windshield wiper blades, headlights and brake lights are replaced regularly and are in good working order. All of these contribute to visibility, and will help keep you safe on the road. And, don’t forget to check the weather. Driving in inclement weather can be stressful, and may increase chances of a fender-bender.

Check Your Medications
Many medications don’t mix well with driving. Even if you feel fine physically, check the side effects of all medications and heed any driving warnings. If you’re unsure about any medications, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. With your doctor’s permission, you may also be able to adjust the timing of your medications in order to avoid taking them while driving.

Avoid Crowds
For a more relaxed driving experience, consider scheduling appointments and errands during non-peak hours. Avoiding high traffic times can help reduce the chances of a car accident and may also save you time.

Take A Defensive Driving Class
Organizations like AARP and AAA offer defensive driving courses as well as online resources that can help you improve awareness behind the wheel and become a safer driver. Some auto insurance companies even offer discounted rates for those who complete defensive driving courses.

Hitch A Ride With Friends
Carpooling has benefits for people of any age. If you’re not up for driving, team up with a friend or look into a local car service. For example, many residents of Plush Mills Senior Living use their own vehicles for errands and attending events throughout Delaware county. However, sometimes they prefer to take advantage of the scheduled shuttle bus or the personal car service. To learn more about these and other services and amenities available at Plush Mills, including our comprehensive services – from independent living to personal care and supportive care –  contact us to schedule a tour.