Improving Driving Safety for Seniors
Physical changes linked to aging can interfere with a person’s driving ability. Nevertheless, seniors can learn how their driving abilities may change and take several steps to stay safe on the road. Here are some useful safety tips for senior drivers.
Older adults can have vision problems at night. Glare from oncoming vehicle headlights and the general darkness can make it harder to see when driving. In the 2018 Chicago Crash Summary Report, about 59% of the city’s 121 fatal crashes occurred in the dark. Seniors should drive during the daylight hours as much as possible to increase visibility.
Today’s cars come with technologies that make driving easier and help reduce crashes. Some of the driver-assist technologies that are beneficial for older drivers include:
- Parking assist
- Forward collision warning
- Navigation assistance
- Lane violation warning
Some medications tend to reduce alertness and cause drowsiness. Such drugs can affect an older driver’s safety, even when he or she is feeling fine. Reading medication labels is essential for knowing the expected side effects. Senior drivers can also review their medications with pharmacists or their primary care providers to determine if they can cause unsafe driving.
Avoiding Drinking and Driving
Drunk driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents. Seniors should never drive after drinking alcohol. The body’s ability to process alcohol can change with age. Even a single cocktail or glass of wine can make driving unsafe for seniors. Alcohol can also interact with medications in different ways, making even minimal consumption unsafe.
Planning Before Driving
Before starting a journey, older drivers should take the time to plan their route. They should choose a path that avoids challenging merges, challenging left turns, and congested areas. According to the 2014 Illinois Crash Information for the Older Population, older drivers involved in accidents were 1.7 times more likely to have been making a left turn before the accident than other drivers.
Regular Hearing and Vision Tests
The natural decline in hearing and vision can make it more difficult for older drivers to detect hazardous conditions while driving. Regular hearing and vision tests help reduce seniors’ risk of accidents.
Age is not a barrier to driving. The key to seniors improving their driving safety is taking the necessary precautions beforehand and only driving when they are sure they are in an ideal condition to drive.