Whether you relish driving as the key to your independence or tolerate it as a necessary evil, as the years rush by, you may find getting behind the wheel comes with some new challenges. If you’re not quite ready to vacate your driver’s seat, it’s a good idea to brush up on some driving safety tips for seniors to protect yourself, your passengers and others on the road.
1. Monitor Vision and Hearing
Awareness of your surroundings is essential for defensive driving, and your eyes and ears are vital sources of information when you’re on the road. Vision problems and hearing loss are very common among adults 65 and older, but many conditions can be treated or corrected if they’re identified early. That means keeping up with your regular vision and hearing screenings isn’t just good for your health; it can help ensure you’re driving more safely, too.
2. Know Medication Effects
Before starting any new medications, be sure you clearly understand potential side effects and interactions. Some medications, both prescription and over the counter, can cause drowsiness, which can be extremely dangerous when you’re driving. Other medications can affect your equilibrium or make you less attentive. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications and any possible conflicts with your driving ability.
3. Stay Physically Fit
Physical activity may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of driving safety for seniors, but regular exercise keeps your muscles strong and your joints supple. Staying in good physical condition helps you more easily execute turns, check your blind spot and maneuver your vehicle. You’ll also be safer if you’re physically able to react quickly to brake or avoid a collision.
4. Avoid Distractions
Distracted driving is dangerous at any age. Stay safe by keeping your focus on the road. That means not answering or placing calls and avoiding eating or drinking. It’s also a good idea to keep the radio at a moderate level so you can hear external sounds like sirens or other traffic sounds, like honking horns. Traveling with a passenger can make your ride more enjoyable, but remember your main focus should be less about socializing and more about getting to your destination safely.
5. Plan Your Route
Getting lost or traveling in troublesome conditions can compromise your safety. Before you start the car, be sure you have a clear idea of your route, including any potential obstacles or detours. If your car or phone has a GPS feature, program your destination while you’re still at home, then use the audio directions so you can keep your eyes on the road. While you’re planning your outing, be sure to take into account factors like rush hour, the weather, and time the sun will set, and plan your drive for the best possible conditions.
6. Make Adjustments
Part of safe driving is anticipating and avoiding conditions that might make you anxious behind the wheel, such as wet roads or nighttime glare. You might need to make other changes, too. For example, if your car is too large for you to drive comfortably or the dash is too hard to read, you might need to consider a different vehicle. You may also be able to ask your doctor or an occupational therapist about assistive devices that can help. Another option is taking a driving course designed for older adults, so you can practice your skills and learn how to overcome common problems older drivers experience.
7. Be Aware of Limitations
Another important tip when it comes to driving safety for seniors is recognizing your own limits. If you’re feeling tired or confused, it’s not a good day for a drive. You might ask a loved one for a lift or arrange for other transportation. If your loved ones or doctor raise concerns about your driving, have a candid talk about your abilities to keep you safe on the road.
Make Your Independence a Priority
Driving is just one expression of independence. When you make your home in an independent living community like Wyndemere, your retirement lifestyle is all about preserving your independence and celebrating your freedom to live each day on your own terms. Learn more about our life-enriching community by contacting us to plan a visit.