Five Ways to Stay Safe Behind the Wheel as You Age

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Having a car means being independent. That’s true when you’re 16 and you can finally drive yourself to and from school, and it’s also true when you’re in your 60’s, 70’s, and beyond as you drive yourself to and from activities and doctor’s appointments. Losing your license for any reason could leave you lonely and homebound.

However, the right to drive is not worth your health and life. As we age, driving can become more difficult and dangerous, and the likelihood of experiencing an accident can increase.

Staying safe behind the wheel should be your priority as you age, not only so you can maintain your health, but also so you can maintain your license.

Upgrade Your Insurance

When was the last time you took a close look at your insurance policy? If you’re over the age of 55, you may qualify for discounts on your car insurance rate.

Aren’t senior drivers supposed to be dangerous? Shouldn’t car insurance rates go up, and not down?

Senior drivers are actually safer than other age groups. They have more experience and they often drive with more caution.

However, that doesn’t remain the case forever. Older seniors can be a liability to an insurance company, which is why they often look into your driving record. If you have experienced a lot of accidents or traffic tickets in the last few years, you may have to pay more for insurance.

You should also consider increasing your deductible. That way, if you have an accident, you’ll pay less out of pocket.

Manage Chronic Conditions

Unfortunately, an increase in age usually also coincides with an increase in health challenges. Some are more serious than others, and some affect your driving more than others.

There are some conditions that will require your license to be revoked, but in most cases, you can still maintain your license. That is, as long as you manage your chronic conditions.

A few medical conditions that can affect your driving include:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia

If you have sleep apnea, make sure you use a CPAP to get a good night’s sleep and manage your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes so you don’t get shaky or tired behind the wheel. With a note from your doctor, you should be able to drive your own vehicle.

Modify Your Driving Habits

There’s no shame in admitting that some of our senses deteriorate after we get older. It happens to all of us! Knowing these limits and accepting them can help you be a better driver.

For example, driving at night can get more difficult as we age. Older eyes have fewer rods that can distinguish between light and dark, and our lenses can become clouded. It’s a good idea to avoid getting behind the wheel when it gets dark.

You may want to make other modifications too that might include avoiding snow and sticking to routes you’re familiar with.

Schedule Hearing and Vision Tests

It’s normal for our vision and hearing to decline as we get older. Unfortunately, most seniors don’t want to admit they’re losing their hearing or vision, which means they do nothing about it.

Both hearing and vision loss are tied to cognitive decline, which will definitely impact your ability to drive. Instead of ignoring the change in your senses, schedule regular hearing and vision tests. Problems can be uncovered and solved quickly so you can maintain your mental health, and the ability to drive.

Know When to Call It Quits

The hardest thing to do as we age is to admit we can no longer do something that once came easy to us. However, it’s important to acknowledge your limitations, even if it might mean losing the ability to drive.

The trouble is, knowing when to throw in the towel can be hard! Here are a few signs that it’s time to stop driving:

  • You have lapses in memory that make you forget the meaning behind certain road signs.
  • You accidentally stop at green lights or run through red lights.
  • You forget to stop at stop signs, or you stop when you don’t have to.
  • You frequently forget where you’re going or how to get there.
  • You find yourself sideswiping cars or nicking them when you’re in parking lots.

You don’t have to give up your license as soon as you become a senior! With these tips, you can stay safe on the road for years, or even decades.

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