Getting behind the wheel may still give you the same thrill it did when you were a teenager learning to drive, or it may be little more than a necessity that allows you to travel freely from point A to point B. Either way, as you age, your may find yourself curious about safe driving tips for seniors and how you can protect your safety on the road.
Many older adults — and their well-intentioned loved ones — worry about how changes in physical abilities might affect driving ability. Slower reflexes and reduced vision, especially at night, are two common senior driving concerns that merit careful consideration.
Ultimately, when it’s time to put your transportation needs in someone else’s hands is a decision only you, your family and your physician can make. In the meantime, you can take steps to safeguard yourself and those who share the road with you by following these safe driving tips for seniors.
Make Safety a Habit
Wearing a seat belt isn’t just the law; it saves lives. Before you even start the ignition, take time to securely fasten your seat belt. If you find the strap uncomfortable, look into pads or straps that help hold the belt more comfortably in place. Another piece of driver safety advice is to always check your seat position to ensure you can easily reach the pedals and other controls. Mirrors can also get bumped, so it’s a good idea to check your mirrors to ensure you can see around and behind the vehicle clearly before you shift out of park.
Distracted driving is dangerous at any age, but especially so when your reflexes aren’t as sharp as they used to be. Keep your focus on the road by avoiding food or drinks while you’re driving, and don’t take or place calls while the vehicle is in motion. Some people find music, audiobooks and even conversations affect their concentration; regardless, keep volume levels low enough that you can hear your surroundings, such as approaching emergency vehicles or other indications of potential danger.
Time Your Travel
If you can avoid it, plan your trips during the daylight hours when visibility is least restricted. The dark combined with glaring lights can be problematic, particularly when combined with other common vision problems older adults experience. Later in the day, you’re also more likely to be tired, so it’s ideal to plan your driving for when you’re more awake and alert.
Consider the Vehicle Itself
Today’s automobiles offer a wide range of features and functions that make driving easier and safer than ever. If you’re driving an older car or truck, you may benefit from trading it in for a vehicle better suited to your current needs. Options like automatic transmission, rearview cameras, blind spot sensors, and automatic braking systems are just some of the features you may find useful in a newer model car. Also consider the size of the vehicle; many older adults find smaller sedans easier to manage than their larger counterparts.
Be Aware of Other Risks
Another important safe driving tip for seniors has more to do with your overall health than your driving habits. Any number of health factors can impede your driving ability, such as medications taken alone or in combination with other prescriptions. Changes in your strength or range of motion over time or due to an injury can also affect your safety when driving. Keeping in close contact with your doctor, including scheduling regular vision and hearing screenings, will help you identify potential areas of concern so you can discuss options that may help you drive more safely.
Enjoy Your Independence Behind the Wheel and Beyond
For many seniors, driving is synonymous with independence. At Sedgebrook, we make your independence a priority. Here you have the freedom and flexibility to live as you wish. You’ll find plenty to fill your days within the community, including a 24-hour fitness center and aquatics center, creative arts studio, and enclosed, climate-controlled walkways ideal for a stroll on a brisk day. When you’re ready for a change of scenery, you’ll love exploring the North Shore with your newfound friends, whether you rely on your own wheels or take advantage of our door-to-door transportation service. Get in touch to learn more about independent living at Sedgebrook.