For many people, there’s nothing that gives them a greater sense of independence than driving. After all, there’s nothing like taking off down the road, filling the wind your hair, and taking in the beautiful scenery.
That sense of independence from driving can last long into adulthood as many older adults can safely drive into their 80s. But as we get older, many issues linked to aging can interfere with our ability to drive more safely. To that end, it’s important that the elderly evaluate their needs and do what’s necessary to stay safe when driving.
If you’re an elderly driver, here are some useful tips to help you drive more safely:
Wear Your Seatbelt
One of the most important things you’re taught from the time you’re a child is that it’s important to buckle up when you’re in the car. This is a rule for which no exceptions should be made. By buckling up, you keep yourself, and any passengers in the car with you, much safer. If you feel like your seatbelt is too uncomfortable, have the shoulder mount adjusted. Or better yet, get a shoulder pad that you can slip over the seatbelt when you’re wearing it.
Don’t Drive Distracted
More and more, statistics point to distracted drivers being the cause of an increased number of accidents. To drive more safely, especially if you’re older, you should definitely not drive distracted. So what does that mean for you? It means putting down your cell phone, and avoiding texting or talking while you drive. It means making the responsible choice not to drink and drive. It means limiting eating and drinking when you drive, or not doing them at all in the car.
Making the choice not to drink and drive is an important one. As people age, the fact is that their ability to process alcohol changes. You might have once been able to enjoy a glass of wine or a couple of beers without issue in your younger years, but your ability to process alcohol as an older adult is undoubtedly much different.
Drinking and driving puts you, any passengers, and other people on the road at risk. You also risk your car to be towed once it has been damaged and can no longer be driven. Call a towing company so you can get help immediately. If you get into a car accident, DWI attorneys can help you with legal issues and a local bail bond company can help you avoid jail time, should you need to make a court appearance. But you can save yourself a lot of trouble by staying sober and staying off the road if you drink.
As you get older, it becomes more and more important to stay physically active. Having good strength and flexibility can help you drive more safely. Staying active makes it easier to turn the wheel when you steer, peek over your shoulder when you need to change lanes, and make other crucial movements when you’re out on the road.
Staying active can also help keep you alert. For some older drivers, it can be difficult to stay awake on the road, especially at night, or on longer trips. Being active increases stamina, helps you sleep better and helps you stay awake, so don’t sleep on exercise. If you have trouble getting in and out of the car, find some stretching and strength exercises, or some sit to stand exercises.
Get Your Hearing And Vision Checked
As we get older, some of our senses tend to decline. For older drivers, that usually means not decreased vision and impaired hearing. Both things are important for driving. Vision problems such as cataracts might make it harder to see pedestrians or other cars. Impaired hearing might make it harder to hear an approaching train or emergency vehicle.
What does all that mean for elderly drivers? It means you need to schedule regular hearing and vision tests. Even if you think you’re fine, these tests can help detect any underlying issues and help correct them. Having these tests regularly can help you reduce your risk of getting into an accident.
If you still have trouble with your eyesight, you can visit an auto supplies store and buy a camera to install in your car. You can have cameras installed that help you see as you back out of the garage, or as you’re trying to park. You can also potentially lower your insurance costs by having a car dashboard camera installed. These cameras can not only help with providing evidence if you get into an accident, but it can also help your insurance company monitor your driving habits. If the company sees that you are a safe driver, your monthly costs may go down.
Know Your Limits
An important part of knowing how to drive more safely, is knowing your limits. This is especially true of physical limitations because you don’t want to be in a compromised position when you drive.
If you suffer from arthritis in your hands for example, you can get a steering wheel cover to relieve the stress on your hands. If sitting in a car seat is uncomfortable, you can get a seat cushion for comfort and to give yourself a boost. If you’re having trouble getting in and out of your truck, visit your dealership and ask about truck accessories. Odds are they’ll be able to install a step or something like a step to help you get up and down much easier.
Another solution, if you have some physical limitations, is to choose a better vehicle for your needs. For example, if you need a vehicle with large, easy-to-read dials and more safety features, your best bet is to visit a used car dealer in your area. In fact, used cars make up three out of every four automotive sales in the United States. A good salesman will have plenty of options to choose from and will ultimately get you set up in a new vehicle that will help you avoid collisions, allow you to see dials and buttons, and allow you to perform basic road maneuvers much easier.
Drive At Your Peak Times
Knowing when to drive more safely means driving when the roads, and you, are in peak condition. You can make any trip much easier and much safer by knowing when to travel. If you need to drive during the day, try to drive after the morning rush hour. If road conditions are poor, give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
Beyond road conditions, it’s important to be in optimal condition when you drive. Aside from not drinking and driving, drive when you’re awake, alert, and not angry.
Refresh Your Driving Skills
You’re never too old to learn, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to driving. If you want to drive more safely, and you’re an elderly driver, you can update your driving skills. You can look for a course in your area, perhaps through a local community education program. You can also look for local organizations that might cater to teaching life skills to older adults. The idea when driving is to stay as safe as possible, and you can’t go wrong by updating your skills or refreshing your skills. Doing this might even earn you a discount on your car insurance, depending on which policy you have.
Once again, if you find yourself becoming confused while driving, or you’re concerned about your ability to drive more safely, then it’s important to know your limits. If others may have also expressed concern about your driving habits, you might consider carpooling with friends or even using a ride sharing service. It’s important to remember that making the decision to give up your car keys doesn’t mean it into your independence, but it’s a good way to keep yourself and others safe if you don’t feel comfortable driving.
If you are an elderly driver, one important tip to ensure that you drive more safely, is to make sure you watch the road. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can sometimes lead to disastrous consequences, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Make sure that you leave enough space between you and the cars in front of you when you’re driving. As good of a driver as you think you are, as we age our reaction time decreases. So, if you’re following too close and you have to slam on the brakes, you may find yourself in a car accident and in need of the services of personal injury attorneys even if you weren’t trying to be a reckless driver.
If you’re a bit wary of driving as you age, you have several options to ensure a safer journey. You can drive when there’s less traffic as previously mentioned, or you can choose safer routes to get to your destination. It may be quicker to use a highway or an expressway to get to where you’re going, but it’s also a lot busier. By taking city streets or side roads, you can get to where you need to go and probably have to deal with less traffic along the way.
Be Careful About Medications
As we age, our need for medications can sometimes increase. If you’re still driving on a regular basis, you need to be careful about which medications you take and when, especially as it relates to driving. Some medications can make you feel very tired and less alert. Some can affect your reaction time and your attention. If you know there are certain medications you take that have certain effects on you, don’t drive after you take those. A good step to take is to visit a pharmacist to see if your medications could lead to unsafe driving. A pharmacist may be able to offer alternatives that you can take, and still be able to drive safely.
Keep Good Insurance
No matter how old you are, one of the most important parts of being able to drive more safely is having good car insurance. While premiums can sometimes increase as you age, you should never be on the road without insurance. As previously mentioned, practicing good driving habits can even earn you some discounts on your insurance.
If you have insurance, but you’re in the market for a new policy, the best thing you can do is shop around. Talk to local agents about what policies they offer and figure out what works best for your needs. If you want coverage that offers roadside assistance services such as towing, make sure to talk to an agent about including that. If you live in a rural area where car-deer accidents are common, you might consider getting coverage for that as well.
Set Yourself Up For Success
If you want to drive more safely, you shouldn’t overlook your own home. What does that mean for elderly drivers? It means, taking steps to eliminate obstacles around your driveway or garage so you don’t have any accidents. For instance, if your garage is a mess, take time to clean it and eliminate the chance of bumping into anything when you pull your car or truck in for the night.
If you’re always rushing in the morning, consider a new automatic garage door installation. This way, you can open your garage door by touching an opener in your car and will eliminate the risk of hitting your door as you try to back out on a busy morning. Even the most meticulous people make mistakes and have accidents, and by taking time to eliminate obstacles at home, you will reduce your risk of mistakes happening.
There are many elderly drivers who take pleasure and pride in being able to hit the open road at any time of day, and go anywhere at the drop of a hat. Regardless of how good your driving skills are, if you’re an elderly driver, you need to be careful. By making regular wellness appointments to have your faculties checked, driving when you are most alert, and staying focused on the road, you can drive more safely and keep your friends, loved ones, and other drivers safe on the road.