In the year 2019, there was a 60% increase in senior drivers from the year 2000. With such an increase of senior drivers, driver’s safety has never been more important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than twenty senior adults are killed in a car accident, and almost 700 are injured in a crash. It is inevitable for our driving abilities to change when we age, but you can take driver safety steps to help ensure you are staying safe on the road. Here are six tips for driving safely in your senior years.
1) Wear a seatbelt
It may seem like common sense to wear a seatbelt while driving, but thousands of Americans die a year due to not wearing a seatbelt in a car crash. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 15,000 thousand lives are saved each year in the United States due to drivers and passengers wearing seat belts in a car accident.
Seatbelts do more than prevent you from being ejected from a vehicle. Seatbelts and airbags work together, and they help you from getting knocked unconscious. When you take three seconds to buckle your seat belt, you can potentially save thousands of dollars from injuries, and not to mention, save your life.
2) Stay physically active
It’s common for seniors to experience mobility restrictions. Whenever you stay physically active in your senior years, you will improve your strength and flexibility, which is needed to help you drive safely. When you are driving on the road, you want to be able to look over your shoulder and turn when checking your blind spot or reverse parking.
Walking and stretching can help improve your mobility and flexibility while driving. By doing this, you can benefit the way you stay alert to road hazards and other essential quick-thinking tasks, such as pressing the brakes suddenly. You may want to check your Medicare plan to see if you have a gym program included in your benefits.
3) Hang up the phone while driving
According to Synergy Home Care, 1.6 million car crashes happen every year due to texting while driving. To drive safely in your senior years, you must hang up the phone while driving. Being distracted while driving can cause more traffic accidents than speeding or driving under the influence.
In order to drive safely and protect yourself and others on the road, you should finish up any phone call or text message before putting your car in drive.
4) Schedule a vision and hearing exam
It’s common for your vision and hearing senses to decline with age. However, it is not safe to drive on the roads when your senses are impaired. For example, it is necessary to see the road, hazard signs, and pedestrians when you are behind the wheel. You also want to be able to hear an emergency vehicle approach you when driving.
A vision and hearing exam help ensure your senses are up to par and you are driving safely on the road. Even if you do not experience changes with your vision and hearing, it’s still recommended for a senior to obtain a vision exam every one to two years and a hearing exam every three years.
5) Be conscious of your medication’s side effects
According to the CDC, four in five seniors take one or more medicines daily. It is not surprising that these many seniors take daily medications, considering 92% of seniors have at least one chronic disease. It’s very common for prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs to have side effects.
If you are taking medication, you can often find a warning label about possible side effects on the prescription bottle. Common side effects include drowsiness, confusion, and dizziness. Therefore, making it challenging to drive and have quick decision making.
If you experience any severe side effects from your medications, you should consult your doctor and hold off on driving until you receive further professional guidance.
6) Retake a driver’s course
Retaking a driver’s course can be an excellent refresher when you are in your senior years. A driver’s course can help update you on your driving technique and provide you with helpful driver tips, such as managing road distractions.
A driver’s course will provide you with information you can take on the road with you daily. For example, many courses review basic safe driving practices and how to manage road rage and drowsiness while driving. Taking a driver’s lesson in your senior years can also help lower your auto insurance. Speak with your provider and see if they offer any discounts when taking a senior driver’s course.
Senior citizens are driving later in life than any previous generation. Although it’s fantastic so many seniors have this type of independence, they must continue to practice driver’s safety. If you are driving in your senior years, consider these six tips to help yourself drive safely.