We all have daily habits, and those habits begin to change when we start to age. One of the daily routines that many Americans have is driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five drivers in the United States is 65 years or older. The way we drive can alter as we get older, so here are five tips to drive safely as a senior.
1. Obtain a vision exam
It is recommended senior citizens get their eyesight checked at least once a year and not go more than two years without an eye exam. There are many reasons you need to see on the road. For example, you will want to steer clear of all pedestrians and be aware of the cars around you.
An eye doctor will be able to detect if your eyes need correcting. Many seniors wear corrective lenses and prescription eyeglasses to help them see better on the road. If you are an active driver, consider anti-reflective lenses, as they can help reduce any glare from the sun or car headlights.
2. Consider the road conditions
The risk of a car accident can increase due to inclement weather, no matter your age. You will want to ensure the road conditions are safe to drive before you get on the road. For example, the lighting at dusk and dawn can be a dangerous time to drive for some seniors, as the lighting can make it harder to see.
You may also want to avoid the roads whenever it is raining or snowing. Thankfully, the latest technology has made it easier to notify you of the weather conditions for the day. If you are wary of driving on the roads during bad weather, reach out to a family or friend and see if they don’t mind driving for you.
3. Ditch the phone
According to the CDC, eight people are killed daily in the United States due to distracted driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that senior citizens are more likely to be distracted by technology while driving compared to younger generations.
Texting and driving are a mistake made by many Americans, which is why it has led to many deaths across the country. Texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, which is enough time for someone to slam on their brakes in front of you.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting and driving is six times more dangerous than driving intoxicated. So, if you must really use your phone while on the road, pull over at a safe location before you get on your phone.
4. Drive the right vehicle
Driving the right vehicle is an essential aspect of driver safety. Before getting behind the wheel, you should ensure the car is easy to navigate. For example, if you are not used to stick shifts, you should stick with an automatic car. The easier it is for you to operate the vehicle, the less likely you will be distracted from the road.
Many seniors have mobility issues, so you will want to drive a senior citizen-friendly car that does not require lots of movement. For example, a compact car might be ideal for you, but it can be hard for you to get in and out of the car as the seats are typically low. You may find that car seats that are higher can help you better see the roads and improve your balance behind the wheel.
5. Be aware of medication side effects
Many changes happen to the human body, and many can, unfortunately, lead to disease. According to the National Council on Aging, about 92% of seniors have at least one chronic disease. Many seniors must take medication to help their condition, and many medications can come with side effects.
Prescription medications come with warning labels about side effects, which could impair your driving ability. For example, drugs such as tranquilizers, cough medicines, decongestants, and antihistamines can have an impact on your vision and reaction time.
Before you begin a medication, consult your pharmacist or doctor to ensure the medicine will not impair your driving.
Seniors are driving more than ever compared to previous generations, which means you should take more precautions now than ever. When you consider these five tips to drive safely as a senior, you can potentially save yourself and others from car accidents and injuries.
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