Seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of drivers, with current projections suggesting that a quarter of all drivers will be over 65 by 2025. However, as we get older, our driving abilities tend to diminish. If senior drivers take the following precautions, like the gentleman featured in this article, they could be effective drivers for many of their golden years.
What you can do:
· The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends you have your vision checked at age 40. Your eye doctor will then tell you how often you should come back. Then, if you are 65 or older, see your eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. There are many vision problems your doctor can treat.
· Talk to your eye doctor if you can’t see well enough to drive because you have a cataract. You might need surgery to remove the cataract.
· If you need glasses or contact lenses to see far away while driving, make sure your prescription is correct. And always wear them when you are driving.
· Cut back on night driving if you are having trouble seeing in the dark.
What you can do:
· Leave more space between you and the car in front of you.
· Start braking early when you need to stop.
· Avoid high traffic areas when you can.
· If you must drive on a fast-moving highway, drive in the right-hand lane. Traffic moves more slowly there. This might give you more time to make safe driving decisions.
· Take a defensive driving course. AARP, American Automobile Association (AAA), or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.
· Be aware of how your body and mind might be changing, and talk to your doctor about any concerns.
· Plan to drive on streets you know.
· Limit your trips to places that are easy to get to and close to home.
· Take roads that will avoid risky spots like ramps and left turns.
· Add extra time for travel if driving conditions are bad.
· Don’t drive when you are stressed or tired.
· Always wear your seat belt.
· Stay off the cell phone.
· Avoid distractions such as eating, listening to the radio, or having conversations.
· Make sure there is enough space behind your car. (Hint: If someone follows you too closely, slow down and pull over if needed to let that person pass you.)
· Use your window defrosters to keep both the front and back windows clear.
· Keep your headlights on at all times.
· Check your windshield wiper blades often and replace them when needed.
· Keep your headlights clean and aimed in the right direction.
· Think about getting hand controls for both the gas and brake pedals if you have leg problems.