According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. has seen a 60% increase in older drivers between 2000 and 2018, with more than 45 million drivers on the road aged 65 and above.
Although older adults tend to drive more safely than younger drivers by adhering to safety rules, driving in safe conditions and refraining from drinking and driving, age-related factors can affect their driving abilities. With declining cognitive function as well as vision it’s important older adults do what they can to stay safe on the road.
Below are some tips that you can take to ensure your own safety and that of other road users.
Staying physically fit as you get older will help your muscles retain their flexibility and strength which can aid your driving abilities, making it easier to get in and out of the car, grip the steering wheel, turn your neck or look over your shoulder.
Studies have shown that shoulder and forearm rotation are key movements in driving safely so exercises that increase mobility such as yoga or stretching can help keep your joints agile and strong.
Physical activity can be incorporated as part of your daily routine, whether it be going for a short walk, sit-to-stand exercises at home or light strength exercises to condition and strengthen your muscles.
Sight and Hearing Tests
Aging can have an effect on the senses, with hearing and vision declining in particular. This can present a significant risk when it comes to driving as the senses need to be alert for a driver to respond quickly and effectively in situations such as oncoming emergency vehicles or to unusual sounds from within the car. This can be particularly hazardous in more populous areas as according to the website of Caffee Accident & Injury Lawyers car accidents frequently occur in cities.
Common eye issues such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts can lead to impaired vision as you age, which can blur vision making it more difficult to drive in reduced light conditions and may also intensify the glare from other car headlights as well as the sun.
It is important to have regular eye and hearing tests with a specialist to ensure there are no issues or to detect them in their infancy. Often, improvements can be made with corrective eyewear or hearing aids to reduce the risk of an accident while on the road.
Manage Your Medications
Some medications can have side effects such as drowsiness, inability to concentrate and blurred vision which may have a detrimental effect on your driving abilities. Review the guidance on your medication for any adverse side effects and whether it advises against driving while taking it. If you are unsure, it is best to check with your doctor or pharmacist.
Refresh Your Road Skills
You can improve your road safety and driver skills by taking a refresher course aimed specifically for older adults. This might involve driving lessons in your own car with advice from a qualified instructor on how to improve your driving and remove any bad habits. By improving your driving skills you will also increase your confidence on the road, making you a safer and better driver.
By following the tips in this article, you can enhance your driving abilities and ensure many more years of motoring.