Safe Driving for Seniors: Tips For Staying Safe on the Road

Seniors face many difficulties driving. Eyesight, hearing, physical strength, flexibility, and cognition can diminish with age. This can reduce a driver’s ability to identify and avoid dangerous situations.

Worse yet, older drivers often have preexisting conditions that make them susceptible to injuries or death in a car crash. A collision that might leave a younger driver bruised and sore might result in broken bones or worse in an older driver. As a result, car crashes kill about 20 seniors and injure 700 seniors every day.

These statistics lead many seniors and their loved ones to look for tips for safe driving for seniors.

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

You might be concerned about your ability to drive. Perhaps you have noticed signs that someone close to you has trouble driving. Finding ways to maintain safe driving for seniors can reduce the risk of accidents and identify the time at which a senior should stop driving.

Tip #1: Recognize Your Limitations

Everyone’s physical condition will decline as they age. The rate of decline and the age at which it impairs driving will vary. But as you age, you may notice that your ability to drive safely has been diminished.

Some signs that you might need to reduce your time on the road or stop driving completely include:

  • Traffic citations
  • Collisions or near misses
  • Confusion on routine drives
  • Physical discomfort while driving

Even if you have not experienced any of these warning signs, a doctor or loved one might point out that your abilities have been in decline. You should accept that these comments are made out of concern for your safety and take them seriously.

Tip #2: Consult a Doctor

Everyone is different when it comes to the impact of age on driving ability. Some seniors drive well into their nineties, while others might need to stop driving in their sixties.

One way to understand your ability to drive is to consult a doctor. A doctor’s opinion has a few benefits.

  • Based on medical evidence
  • Unbiased
  • Arises from experience with other seniors

No one understands your health better than your doctor. Your doctor knows your physical and mental limitations. Your doctor also knows which medications you use. They can often explain the health issues that might impair your driving ability.

Tip #3: Accept Help

One of the biggest obstacles to helping seniors recognize the limits on their driving abilities is their perception of the loss of independence. They believe that they will lose their freedom once they give up the keys to their car.

Seniors can have difficulty relying on others. But seniors have many options, some of which may be more convenient than driving on their own.

Rather than grocery shopping, some seniors might find it easier to order groceries online for delivery. Instead of driving to doctor’s appointments on their own, taxis, rideshare services, and even relatives can drive them. Seniors may opt for daytime visits to friends and family members, rather than driving after dark, too.

Tip #4: Focus on Safety

When seniors drive, safety becomes a primary concern. You should try to eliminate anything that might create a dangerous situation.

Plan your route before you leave so you do not get lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Take your cell phone and make sure to charge it. Wear your seatbelt.

Be cognizant of road conditions. Avoid driving at night or during poor weather. Bad driving conditions can reduce your safety margin when it comes to avoiding collisions.

Make sure your car is safe to drive. If your car needs repair or maintenance, take it to the auto repair shop. A car can put you and other motorists at risk when it is not in working condition.

Tip #5: Adjust Your Driving Habits

If you believe that you can continue to drive safely, you should adjust your driving habits to match your abilities. Some additional ways to drive safely include:

  • Do not speed
  • Do not tailgate
  • Use your turn signals
  • Watch for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians
  • Do not drive when you are tired
  • Avoid driving after taking medication that might affect your driving ability
  • Do not use electronic devices while driving

These driving habits can improve anyone’s driving. For seniors, they can provide a margin of safety that can reduce the risk of accidents.

Tip #6: Buy a New Car

Newer cars have many safety features that older cars lack. Car manufacturers did not include airbags as standard equipment prior to 1998, so many older cars lack them. The government only required car manufacturers to include anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control in cars made after 2013.

Some newer cars have driver assistance technologies like alarms to warn you if you drift out of your lane or automatic emergency brakes that stop the vehicle when a collision hazard is detected. These technologies can provide seniors with peace of mind.

Learning More About Seniors & Safe Driving

These are just a few of the expert-recommended safe driving tips for seniors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many state DMVs have websites with more information. Your state’s DMV website should also list any additional conditions your state has for licensing senior drivers.

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