Many older adults can drive safely well into their 80’s or even beyond. However, since various physical issues linked to aging can interfere with safe driving, it’s important that older drivers- and the people who care for them evaluate their needs to keep them safe while they’re on the road.
Tips and resources for safe older drivers:
Seat belts save lives. Buckle up before starting the car-every single time. If your seatbelt is uncomfortable, adjust the shoulder mount or buy a shoulder pad that slips over the belt.
Mute your cell phone. Talking or texting while driving distracts you from the road and other vehicles. Leave your cell phone on silent, and do not answer it while you’re driving.
Do not eat while driving. Eating can also distract you while driving. If you must eat or drink, pull into a safe area such as a parking lot and finish all refreshments before getting back on the road.
Do not drink and drive. As people age, their ability to process alcohol may change. Even one cocktail or a glass of wine or beer may make older drivers unsafe on the road, especially when mixed with different medications.
Limit distractions: Listen to music or audio books even chatting with your passengers can distract some older drivers. Turn off the sound and avoid having conversations with others in the car.
Watch the road. Make sure there is always enough space between your car and the cars in front of you. Also, maintain a safe distance from traffic behind you.
Drive during daylight as much as possible. Older adults, even those with good vision, can experience visual problems at night. General darkness and glare from oncoming headlights make it more difficult to see.
Avoid driving in bad weather. Rain, snow, fog and other hazardous conditions can be especially dangerous for older drivers. Let the bad weather clear before you get on the road. If you must travel, use public transportation or a car service.
Choose safer routes. Try to avoid highways that have ramps, which can be dangerous for older drivers. Also, avoid making left turns on highways or busy roads. Better to go a little out of your way to avoid difficult intersections and turns.
Try to drive when there is less traffic. Stressed or tired? Stay where you are until you’re well rested and calm. Know your medications. Some medications can make you feel drowsy and less alert than usual, or can affect reaction time and other attention.
Portions of this article were provided by HealthinAging.org and do not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.