Five Safe Driving Tips for Seniors
By Joseph Maus
As we grow older, it is still important to have independence and remain self-sufficient for as long as possible. Aging does not always mean we have to have a lower quality of life or surrender our privilege to freely drive ourselves around town. However, it is normal for things like driving to become a little more difficult as we age. The following few basic guidelines can help ensure your ability to drive yourself for the long haul while staying safe.
1. Keep Moving & Stay Healthy!
It is important no matter how old you are to keep moving and especially crucial later in life to prevent stiffness and promote flexibility in your joints and muscles. Being a safe driver requires you to be able to react quickly to the changing environment and be able to respond appropriately to traffic lights, stop signs, and other drivers. Appropriate exercise can help improve your ability to move, react and respond. Many seniors enjoy walking which is a low impact aerobic exercise that helps maintain joint movement. Yoga can help with maintaining and restoring flexibility and stability. Water aerobics can help with your reaction time and muscle tone. As with any new exercise regimen, you should check with your doctor first to make sure you don’t over-do it.
It is not just physical activity that you should focus on, but make sure to keep your mind alert as well. Driving requires mental awareness which can get a bit foggy over the years. To help keep your brain at its best, keep it stimulated. You can do puzzles, read daily, learn a new skill, and make sure to get your essential vitamins especially vitamin B. Don’t forget to rest too, sleep is extremely important for overall health.
2. Have Regular Vision and Hearing Tests
Aging causes our bodies to go through many changes, including loss of hearing and declining eyesight. Being able to hear and see well is important to ensure safety while driving. If you do require eyeglasses, ensure that they fit properly and are the correct prescription so that you can see clearly without obstruction. It may also be best to only drive during the day, as it can be hard to see at night. If you need hearing aids, you will need to confirm that they fit and work properly. If your hearing is impaired you may not hear approaching vehicles, sirens or honking horns. Talk to your physician about how often you should have hearing and vision tested.
3. Effectively Manage your Medications
Certain disorders and diseases are more common among senior citizens, such as heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, dementia and cancer. To effectively manage conditions such as these, you will be prescribed medications and treatments. Talk to your prescribing physician, as well as your pharmacist, about how these medications may affect you and interact with one another. Read the labels on your medications and don’t drive immediately after taking them until you know how they will affect you. Statins for example may interfere with the production of energy where proton pump inhibitors may cause low levels of magnesium and can lead to fatigue. Never drive after taking a medication that you know makes you feel sleepy or lightheaded.
4. Take a Driving Class for Senior Citizens
In some areas, such as the state of Florida which has the highest percentage of persons age 65 and older, there are defensive driving courses designed especially for senior citizens. As a bonus, some insurance companies offer a discount for completion of the course. You will need to check with your insurance company to see if they provide this discount. Should you be injured in an accident in Florida, it is important to find a reputable legal professional to assist you with any potential claims.
5. Choose the Right Vehicle and Take Extra Precautions
When you are choosing a vehicle to drive, make sure it has an automatic transmission and power steering. A rearview camera can help you see what’s behind you before backing up your car. There are also cars available that will let you know when you are being passed by another vehicle. Finally, make sure your windshield wipers are in optimal working condition and your tires have adequate tread.
Growing older is not something we can prevent, but following these safety tips can help seniors stay safe and prevent auto accidents before they occur.
As a Florida native, attorney Joseph Maus has been practicing law in South Florida for over 20 years. His practice is currently focused on insurance-related claims, such as personal injury and homeowner property damage claims, as well as commercial litigation. Mr. Maus is an AV-rated attorney, which is the highest rating awarded by Martindale-Hubbell for one’s professional abilities and adherence to professional standards of ethics and conduct.