With a driver’s license comes freedom. It’s a lot easier to run errands and meet up with friends and family when you can grab your keys and head out the door when it’s convenient for you.
However, that freedom will come to an abrupt end if you find yourself in an accident. You should always take pictures at any accident scene, go to the doctor, and report your injury to other agencies, like your insurance company, but that doesn’t mean life goes back to normal when it’s all over. That’s especially the case when it comes to seniors.
Avoiding an accident is extremely important to your health as you age, as bouncing back is a lot more difficult than it was when you were younger. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can make your driving habits safer so you can continue feeling confident every time you get behind the wheel.
Avoid Driving at Night and During Poor Conditions
Our eyesight changes as we age. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but these changes can affect your safety when you drive. Beginning in your 40s, the lenses in your eyes begin to lose flexibility, dry eye is common, and after 60, it becomes more and more difficult to see contrasts, like light and dark.
As you age, you should spend less time driving at night, which means you might have to get up earlier to run errands, especially during the winter when it gets dark early.
You should also avoid driving during poor conditions. Rain, snow, and even fog can limit already limited eyesight, so it’s best to avoid driving until the sun comes out.
Choose Safer Routes With Less Traffic
Some routes through the city are more dangerous than others. As your eyesight is reduced and your reaction time gets slower, it’s a good idea to spend more time thinking about the routes you take regularly.
For example, you may want to avoid the interstate and drive through town instead, even if it will take you an extra five or ten minutes. You may also want to avoid curving roads and hilly routes where visibility is poor.
Traffic matters too! You may have to take the interstate, but it’s much better to avoid rush hour when there are more cars around that could be driving recklessly.
Eliminate as Many Distractions as Possible
You don’t have to be a person of a certain age to be distracted in the car. Anyone of any age can be distracted and find themselves in an accident. However, distractions can be even more distracting to a senior with reduced eyesight, reaction times, and focus.
Avoid common distractions in the car that include:
- Texting or talking on a cell phone
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting the thermostat
- Adjusting your seat and mirrors
- Adjusting the radio
- Inputting information into a GPS
Instead of doing these things while your car is in drive, pull over to take a call, adjust your seat before you pull out of the driveway, and turn off the radio.
Be Aware of Your Medications
It’s normal to take medication as you age. Many seniors end up taking multiple medications, but some of these medicines can interfere with your ability to drive.
Any time you take a new medication, a dosage changes, or you discontinue use of a medication, you should talk to your doctor and your pharmacist about how it might affect your driving. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t drive at all, but it might mean avoiding getting behind the wheel when you’re sick or during times of the day when you take certain medications.
Know When It’s Better to Ask Someone Else to Drive
Sometimes, it’s better to ask someone else to drive. For example, you may want to ask someone to pick you up when driving around an unfamiliar side of town, or you may leave the driving up to someone else during long trips.
Knowing when to ask someone else to drive also means knowing when it’s time to give up the keys to your car. If you stop at green lights, regularly run stop signs, or have been in more minor accidents recently, it might be time to give up driving altogether for your health and safety.
Just because you enter your golden years doesn’t mean you’re done driving! You really can continue driving safely into your 60s, 70s, and beyond as long as you follow these tips every time you get behind the wheel.