To help ensure that you can remain active and maintain your ability to drive, there are some safe driving strategies you can begin to implement now.
General Health and Welfare
- Regular physicals including vision and hearing tests – Check with your doctor regularly to see if there are any conditions or medications that may affect your driving (Segal, White and Robinson, 2018). Vision and hearing are two senses that most affect driving capabilities—and as senses decline with age, it is recommended you check your vision every two years and your hearing every three years.
- Regular physical and mental exercises – Exercising can improve flexibility, agility, and hand-eye coordination.
- Healthy diet and plenty of rest – Make sure you are in good physical condition when driving and had enough rest to be alert during your entire drive.
- Update your driving skills – Consider taking a refresher course for older drivers. Updating your driving skills might even earn you a discount on car insurance, depending on your policy (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
- Pre-plan your trips and stops – Time your departures for when visibility is high (e.g. on a sunny day). Whenever possible, avoid driving during adverse weather conditions such as heavy fog, snow, hail, etc.
- Leave and return during “non- rush hour” traffic
- Routine maintenance of your vehicle – Check things such as tire pressure, cleanliness of mirrors and windshields, adjustment of mirrors, and possible vehicle recalls.
While Driving – Drive Defensively!
- Keep a space cushion around your vehicle. Count three seconds behind the car in front of you.
- Minimize distractions in the car such as your phone
- Keep your eyes moving between front, back, and sides.
- Always use turn signals. Make sure other drivers know your intentions.
- Look both ways before entering an intersection after waiting for a signal
- Watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, and skateboarders
- Look ahead one block in the city and ¼ mile on the highway
If you are concerned about your driving, you can also consider consulting with a rehabilitation specialist. Driving rehabilitation specialists are trained to evaluate older drivers in: muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, coordination and reaction time, judgment and decision-making skills, and the ability to drive with specialized, adaptive devices (driversed.com, n.d.).
For more information, visit Keiro’s fact sheet at keiro.org/resources.
Driversed.com. (n.d.). Defensive Driving Techniques. Retrieved from: https://driversed.com/driving-information/defensive-driving/defensive-driving-techniques.aspx
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Older drivers: 7 tips for driver safety. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/senior-health/art-20046397
Segal, R., White, M. and Robinson, L. (2018). Age and Driving. Retrieved from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/how-aging-affects-driving.htm