There is no age limitation for driving. As much as we get more driving experience as we age, our mental and physical weaknesses limit our driving capability. Additionally, most seniors know that driving is one of the ways to maintain their independence and that is why most of them tend to hold on to keys for long. Whether living independently or seeking retirement living in Houston and anywhere else in the world, driving is always fun even at an older age. Below is a compilation of tips that could help you stay safe while driving at a senior age.
General tips for driving at a senior age
Stay physically active.
You can do this by engaging in physical activities such as strength training or stretching, which improve your mobility. Chronic conditions such as diabetes are likely to become a problem while you are behind the wheels. Therefore, you have to ensure that you are healthy and physically active before you hit the road.
2. Schedule regular vision tests.
Getting your eyes checked regularly will ensure that your vision is right for driving. Vision impairment is quite common among the elderly. You should ensure that your corrective lenses are updated.
3. Avoid driving at night.
It is advisable to stay in your comfort zone if you choose to drive at a senior age. While driving at a senior age you need the road to be as clear as possible. Driving at night does not guarantee you the clear vision that you require. Schedule your time appropriately to avoid driving at late hours.
4. Don’t tint your windows.
Tinting your windows will not give you a clear vision of the road. At an older age your vision becomes poor. You need to have the windscreen and car windows to be as clear as possible. Also remember to turn the brightness up using the instrument panel that is on the dashboard.
5. Avoid driving during periods of high traffic.
As a senior citizen, you need to be comfortable while driving. Driving during periods of high traffic such as in the evening, at lunch or in the morning can be uncomfortable, and you might lose focus which is essential for your safety on the road.
6. Schedule hearing tests.
Sight and hearing are perhaps the most essential things that you require while driving. Hearing loss is very common among seniors and you have to get checked up to ensure that you are hearing is good. Loss of hearing means that all traffic sounds are muted. This is why you should have your hearing checked up occasionally. If you use hearing aids then you have to have them every time that you are behind the wheels.
7. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead.
Driving regulations demand a one car distance between one vehicle and the next one per 10mhp while driving. This is for a standard driver. Now that you are older, increasing the distance is safer because it gives you ample space to break safely and also compensates for slower reaction periods.
8. Drive on familiar streets, and limit trips to those close to home.
It is advisable to drive close to home since you are more familiar with the streets and so on. In case you are driving to unfamiliar destinations, you could use a GPS to verbally guide you to the right destination. Avoid reading maps since you might end up being distracted which might not end up good for you.
9. If possible, drive a car with an automatic transmission.
Driving a car with automatic transmission will give you more time to focus or stay alert. This is because you will have fever things to attend to compared to driving a car with manual transmission.
10. Always wear your seat belt.
It is mandatory to wear your seat belt while driving. It is actually stipulated in the law. Some states such as Florida require all passengers occupying the front seats to wear a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt minimizes the impact that you might incur in the event of an accident.
11. Avoid driving during inclement weather.
Inclement weather comes with a lot of collusions making it unsafe for the delicate seniors. Whether it is fog, ice, rain, hail or snow storms, adverse weather conditions are a likely to impair your vision and limit you driving ability. You should drive slowly with your hazard light on in case you are caught up in such weather conditions. It is safer to stay home.
Below are more tips to keep you safe as a senior driver:
- Stay alert and watch for flashing lights of emergency vehicles if you have difficulty hearing.
- Raise your seat high enough so you have a clear view of the road. Sit on a small pillow if necessary.
- Limit distracting noise inside the vehicle. This includes the radio and conversations with passengers and use of cell phones.
- Keep your windshield, headlights, and mirror clean to improve visibility.
- Allow adequate stopping distances.
- Keep windshield wiper blades in proper working condition.
- Get hearing aids and new glasses when needed.
- Carefully read medication labels to see if they may impair driving skills.
- Don’t drive if you’re feeling tired, lightheaded, or stressed.
- Use other transportation services such as taxis and buses if you’re unsure of your ability to drive safely.
- Keep your headlights on at all times.
- Manage any chronic conditions.
- Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about continuing to drive.
- Update your driving skills.
- Do not use your mobile device.
- Watch your speed.
- Take routes that avoid risky spots, such as freeway ramps and left turns.
Finally, you have to understand that there come a time when you have to hand up the keys. It is still okay to be driven by someone else or grab a tax. I hope the tips above will be helpful.