As we age, it’s typical for our driving ability to fluctuate. These suggestions, nevertheless, can assist you in adjusting to your senior years without the keys if you recognize the warning indications of risky driving.
What Impact Does age Have on Driving?
Driving is a crucial part of many of us staying independent as we age. You might be able to continue safely driving far into your senior years by lowering risk factors and implementing safe driving habits. But even if you discover that you must cut back on driving or hand over the keys, it doesn’t mean that your independence is over.
Since everyone ages differently, there is no set age at which one should no longer drive. However, older persons are more likely than younger drivers to obtain traffic tickets and be involved in accidents. What triggers this growth? Age-related issues might arise from things like declining vision, deteriorating hearing, weaker motor responses, and deteriorating health problems.
Strength, coordination, and flexibility all tend to decline as we become older, which can affect our capacity to properly operate a vehicle. For instance:
- It may be more difficult to gaze over your shoulder if your neck is sore or painful.
- Moving your foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal can be challenging if you have leg pain.
- It can be challenging to rapidly and accurately spin the steering wheel with weakened arms.
- As you get older, your reaction times may slow down.
It is possible to lose the capacity to successfully divide your attention between several tasks.
Although you may have been a lifelong driver with a stellar safety record, it is important to understand that as you get older, your driving abilities may alter. Even though the idea of losing some of your independence may make you feel astonished or overwhelmed, you may still lead an active, fulfilling life without a car if you keep your mind open to new ideas.
Finding alternate forms of transportation can be advantageous for one’s health and for society as a whole. It can also be a refreshing change of pace. Even other facets of your independence might be extended.
Advice for Senior Drivers on Safety
Driving skill does not necessarily completely disappear with age. You can adapt your vehicle, adjust your driving style, and take care of any physical conditions that can make it difficult for you to drive safely.
Keep an Eye on Y&our Health
To be in the greatest possible driving shape, routine checkups are essential.
- Have your eyes examined annually. Ensure that your corrective lenses are up to date. Maintain a clean windshield, mirrors, and headlights, and increase the brightness of your dashboard’s instrument panel.
- Every year, have your hearing evaluated. Make careful to wear your hearing aids while driving if you require them. Open your automobile windows carefully, though, as draughts can occasionally reduce the efficiency of your hearing aids.
- Exercise. Regular flexibility and strength training can improve your range of motion and reflexes, reduce pain and stiffness, and keep you strong enough to control a car.
- Discuss the potential effects of illnesses or medications on your ability to drive with a doctor. For instance, tinted eyewear can help to reduce glare if you have glaucoma.
- Get lots of rest. Driving safely depends on getting adequate sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and discuss with your doctor whether you might need to take any driving-related sleep aids.
Locate the Ideal Vehicle and Any Necessary Driving Aids
If necessary, a licensed driving rehabilitation specialist or occupational therapist can recommend equipment that will make it simpler for you to operate the foot pedals or steer your car. Otherwise:
- Pick a car with an automatic transmission, power brakes, and power steering.
- Maintain your vehicle’s functionality by scheduling routine maintenance.
- Always keep your headlights and windows clean.
- Drive carefully.
- Nowadays, with the prevalence of cell phones, GPS units, audiobooks, and digital music players, driving distractions have increased. As a result, you should take extra precautions to drive legally through:
Leaving Room for the Vehicle in Front of You
- concentrating harder at intersections
- ensuring that your driving is in accordance with the flow of traffic.
- avoiding distractions while driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, and using a GPS or map.
- allowing enough space for braking. Remember that doubling your speed, such as going from 30 mph to 60 mph, causes your braking distance to increase by four times, and this increase is further exacerbated if the road is icy or wet.
Recognize Your Limitations
- Avoid being in an unpleasant situation when driving. As we age, a lot of us deliberately start to alter our driving habits by:
- If seeing well at night is a concern, only drive during the day.
- avoiding freeways and highways in order to avoid busy traffic.
- avoiding driving in poor weather (rain, thunderstorms, snow, hail, ice).
- Making a travel plan before leaving will help you feel more secure and prevent getting lost.
- Pay attention to other people’s worries
It could be time to take a hard, honest look at your driving skills if family members, friends, or others raise worries about how you drive. Have an occupational therapist do a thorough driving evaluation. Refresh your driving knowledge by enrolling in a course. Consult your doctor about your capacity for safe driving.
Senior Driving Safety Warning Signs
Sometimes warning symptoms of risky driving develop gradually, or a recent health change may exacerbate issues. Even while the individual red flags can appear insignificant, taken as a whole, they can represent a significant risk.
Watch out for these warning signs in senior drivers:
- Frequent near-collisions, dents, and scrapes on the automobile as well as on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs.
- increased citations, tickets, or “warnings” issued by police or traffic officers.
- Problems with basic driving skills, such as abrupt lane changes, drifting into other lanes, and braking or accelerating erratically. Other instances include not using the turn signal and maintaining the signal when reversing.
- Eyesight issues include difficulties seeing street signs and traffic lights or the need to approach them closer and closer in order to see them clearly.
- hearing issues, such as the inability to hear emergency sirens or blaring horns.
- memory issues, such as regularly getting lost or missing exits that used to be obvious. Although everyone slips up once in a while, it is essential to see a doctor if there is a trend of escalating lapses.
- Reflex and range of motion issues, such as being slow to react when a fast stop is required or looking back quickly, misusing the gas and brake pedals, becoming flustered while driving, or being easily irritated while driving.
If You Must Hand Over the Keys
It can be difficult to get used to life without a car at first. It’s common to experience frustration, rage, or irritability. You may even experience guilt or concern about losing your independence. But giving up the wheel and prioritizing your own and other people’s safety requires a lot of guts.
Even so, you could discover that living without a car has its advantages. The money saved at the expense of car ownership can be used to pay for other modes of transportation, including taking a cab or shuttle. Your health may improve if you walk more.
Exercise is beneficial for the mind, mood, sleep, vitality, and memory, in addition to the physical benefits it provides. By taking rides from others, you can meet more people. Consider paying a friend or neighbor to drive or offer to trade off other tasks like cooking a meal in exchange. If you live life more slowly and without the pressure of driving, you might find that you appreciate it much more.
The adjustment will be simpler if you have more transportation options than driving. You need to be able to leave the house not only for necessities like doctor’s appointments but also for social outings and to pursue your interests and hobbies. Consider using public transit, ridesharing services, senior community shuttles, and taxi or mobile app services like Uber and Lyft.
A good opportunity to assess your living circumstances might be now. If you live in a remote area with few transportation options, think about moving somewhere with more choices, or look into senior living communities.
How to Approach an Elderly Adult About Driving Recklessly
For senior drivers, driving safety can be a delicate subject. A driver’s license represents freedom and independence in addition to the capacity to operate a vehicle.
If you ever find yourself having a conversation with an elderly friend or relative regarding their driving, keep the following in mind:
Be considerate. Driving is frequently a crucial component of independence. Nevertheless, if you have a valid worry, don’t back down or let yourself be frightened.
Specify your examples. Describe particular issues you’ve noticed rather than making generalizations like “You can’t drive safely anymore.” You suddenly braked at stop signs three times the last time we traveled, for instance, or “You have a tougher problem rotating your head than you used to.”
Discover the power of numbers. It is less likely to be seen as nagging if more than one member of the family or close acquaintance has noticed. A loved one might also pay attention to an expert in driving or medicine who is more objective.
Aid in locating alternatives. The individual may be accustomed to driving so much that they have never thought about alternatives. You can provide specific assistance, including looking into available transportation choices or, if possible, offering rides.
Recognize how challenging the change is. Giving up the keys could cause your loved one to feel a great feeling of loss, and being unable to drive can cause loneliness and sadness. As much as possible, try to assist with the changeover. If possible, try removing the seniors from driving gradually to give them time to acclimatize. For instance, your loved one might start the shift by using a shuttle service to specified appointments, like the doctor’s, or by stopping driving at night or on freeways.
If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about overcoming alcohol addiction.