Seniors: AAA Offers Tips to Improve Driving Safety

Senior woman driving

Photo courtesy of AAA

Driving is portrayed in cinema and the media as synonymous with independence. Who doesn’t love the thrill of the open road and wind in their hair? But today’s seniors are worried about losing that privilege—and with it their independence—as they develop conditions, including mobility challenges, that compromise safety.

In fact, a recent American Automobile Association (AAA) poll found that nearly half of seniors worry about losing their freedom and mobility when the time comes for them to transition from driver to passenger.

Fortunately, seniors can prolong their ability to drive by following just a few simple steps provided by the AAA:

1. Evaluate your driving.
Ask yourself some safety questions to figure out how safe of a driver you are. How frequently do you wear a seatbelt? Do you use signals and check for nearby traffic before changing lanes? Does traffic make you feel anxious? When was the last time you had an eye exam? Then take AAA’s Driver 65 Plus self-assessment.

2. Be aware of how aging affects driving habits.
Aging takes a toll on the body and can result in hearing and vision loss and slower reaction times. AAA reports that 60-year-olds require three times the amount of light to see properly compared to 20-year-olds. Follow these preventative measures to counteract some of these issues:

  • Don’t drive at night.
  • Increase the following distance between your car and the car in front of you to allow more time to react to sudden braking.
  • Eliminate distractions in the vehicle, and avoid heavy traffic so that you can hear emergency sirens.
  • If you have limited vision, avoid left-hand turns at intersections with signals by making three right-hand turns around the block when possible.

3. Find the right fit.
Does your car fit you? Surprisingly, small adjustments inside the vehicle can make a big difference in your safety. For example, AAA says that sitting too close to the steering wheel can interfere with steering and cause fatigue—as well as injury if the airbag deploys during a collision. Make these adjustments:

  • Ensure that you have 10-12 inches between your chest and the steering wheel.
  • When seated properly, you should be able to see the ground in front of your car within 12-15 feet and one and a half car widths left and right.

Click here to assess your vehicle’s safety.

4. Take a refresher course.
Even if you’ve been driving for years, taking a driver education course can help reinforce the basics and provide information on updated driving rules and new vehicle technologies.

5. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications sometimes interfere with driving ability. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist to ensure your medications aren’t affecting your safety.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate