You may feel like you can drive just as well as you did 30, 40, or even 50 years ago, but there comes a time when every senior’s driving abilities change. Maybe your response time has slowed down a bit, or perhaps your limited flexibility affects how you control the car. Even if you have all the confidence in the world to get behind the wheel and reach your destination, it’s important to keep senior driver safety in mind. After all, it’s a fast-paced world out there!
Understanding the Importance of Senior Driver Safety
Becoming a senior doesn’t mean giving up your freedom and losing your independence. Some seniors continue to drive well into their 70s, 80s, or even 90s. Others, however, have certain health problems like poor eyesight and impaired hearing, which increase their chance of running stop signs or crashing. In fact, more than 580 senior adults suffer injuries every day in vehicular accidents.
How Aging Affects Your Driving Ability
Aging takes its toll on everyone over time, affecting a person’s overall strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and awareness. When you turned 40, you probably noticed more pain in your knees and back when you got out of bed in the morning. The older you got, the more aches and pains showed up. Chronic conditions can also pop up and affect how you sit, walk, see, and feel. As you age, your ability to control a car can be hampered by:
- Pain in your legs that makes it difficult to operate the pedals
- Pain in your arms that prevents you from turning the wheel effectively
- Slow reaction times that keep you from avoiding cutoffs or a car that has suddenly stopped in front of you
- Diminished flexibility in your neck, making it difficult to check blind spots or spot pedestrians at a crosswalk
Senior Driver Safety Tips
No matter how well you have driven in the past, your age will eventually catch up to you and influence how you drive your car. However, just because you’re older, that doesn’t mean you have to hand in your keys. Driving defensively and maintaining your health will go a long way to keeping you behind the wheel.
- Never skip an eye appointment. If you wear glasses, make sure to keep the lenses current and cleaned regularly.
- Get your hearing tested every year. If you have hearing aids, wear them while driving.
- Defend yourself against possible accidents through vigilance and skill. Avoid talking on the phone or looking at a GPS system while driving. Pull over if you need to take your eyes off the road. Maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you; staying at least four car lengths behind the other car will help to prevent collisions during sudden stops.
- You should never get behind the wheel if you can’t operate the car to the best of your ability.
- Take advantage of complimentary transportation services. Most retirement communities offer transportation to residents, giving you a reliable and safe way to get to medical appointments or stores. You can also use the community’s transportation services to go on group outings or get away for an afternoon.
Driving may feel like a vital part of your independence, but it’s not always necessary as you get older. With community transportation services available, you can go wherever you need without having to worry about senior driver safety. If you’ve reached the point where you cannot safely drive your car, don’t be afraid to hang up your keys. After all, you have your own safety and the safety of others on the road to consider.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? If so, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place, located in Bartlett, Tennessee. Our transportation services ensure that residents are able to get to medical appointments, go shopping, and enjoy group outings. We would be happy to schedule a tour for you so that you can explore the community, meet some of the residents, and ask any questions you might have. For more information, please call 901-854-6590. We look forward to meeting you!