The 5 Tips To Drive Safely As A Senior Citizen
Having a car means having freedom. When we get older, freedom also means living an independent life so having a car and the ability to drive safely is essential. Without a car, the quality of life drops quite a bit for some seniors. Although there are many seniors that drive safely well into their 90s there are many that have such difficulty that they give up their license.
There are ways to make sure that you can drive until you physically can’t anymore so you can enjoy living an independent life. It takes some driving tips to be able to do so and, just like with exercise, has to be practiced. What might have been a walk in the park years ago, now requires a different kind of focus to stay safe.
In this article, we will go over several tips to make sure that you can drive on and on as you get older.
1 – Get tested for hearing and vision
There are some states that require older drivers to undergo mandatory vision tests when renewing their license after a certain age. It’s really important for seniors that aren’t required to or are not yet ready to renew their license to voluntarily go through the process.
You may not even realize that your hearing or vision is starting to deteriorate. Or, you may understand that it is but feel it hasn’t reached a critical point that would make it dangerous to drive. It’s better to find out for sure that you are either having trouble or are good to go.
Schedule an appointment with both your optometrist and hearing doctor to take some tests. You shouldn’t worry about the results. The worst-case scenario is that you will need to adjust your prescription eyeglasses in case the test results are not up to snuff. Or, if your hearing is off then you can always opt for some hearing aids to be able to stay safe on the road.
2 – Stay up to date on medications
There are times when your medications need to be updated as they no longer work, or they are causing you problems. This can seriously impair your driving ability. If you ever feel like there are some side effects that are new then talk to your doctor right away. You don’t want to risk getting behind the wheel if your medications can cause you to drive erratically.
It’s also wise to make sure that if you need to take a new medication that you understand what side effects you are likely to experience. Your doctor should tell you about what to expect, but you don’t really know what your body is going to do or how it can affect your mental state until you take it. Make sure to pay close attention to what you feel in addition to what you are told could happen.
If your medication is making it unsafe for you to drive, then talk to your doctor about it as there may be another prescription they are able to give you that doesn’t have the same side effects.
3 – Research your route
Being in an unfamiliar area can lead to some mistakes being made while driving. This isn’t to say that you should avoid driving in an unfamiliar area. The idea is to get more familiar with it before you drive.
You should research the area before you set out so you can understand what you are likely to face before actually getting there. You may do a Google search and find there is construction so it’s best to seek an alternate route. Or, there could be a lot of traffic or dangerous intersections.
Knowing this will help you if you decide to take that route. This even includes checking the weather before you go so you know if the roads are going to be dangerous. If it’s night then you may want to take an Uber or have somebody else drive.
4 – Use technology
There have been a lot of safety advances that have made it much easier for seniors to drive for much longer into their advanced age. Take advantage of cars that come equipped with safety technology or retrofit the one you have where you can.
For instance, there are collision warning features in some cars so you can be warned if there is a car stopped short ahead of you. Even warnings if you begin to drift into another lane or there is a car in your blind spot.
Those warnings can help avoid accidents that you aren’t even aware that there is the risk of one in the first place. Accidents often occur in parking lots as backing up out of a spot can be difficult for anybody. Rear cameras are essential for people who lack spatial awareness. If parking is an issue then parking assist will make it a breeze to get in and out of those tight spots.
5 – Don’t drive distracted
It doesn’t matter what age you are, this advice works for everybody. Driving distracted is a major factor in many accidents. Often people are texting while driving, eating or drinking, and even putting on makeup. This is a serious risk and needs to stop.
If you are hungry then make sure to eat before you drive so you aren’t with full hands behind the wheel. If you need to send an important text message then do it before leaving the house or pull to the side of the road where it’s safe to read and send it.
While driving, you should only be focused on what is happening on the road around you and not on whatever else.
Taking in all of these tips can be a real help when it comes to maintaining your independence. Make sure that you do know when it is time to seek out alternatives if your driving is becoming erratic, however. You can hire a driver, or ask neighbors and family to get you around in a worst-case scenario.