4/28/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Some older adults drive safely into their 80s and 90s. But for many, driving can be challenging – primarily because of the physical issues associated with aging; this makes it essential that older drivers assess what they need to do to stay protected on the road and follow these safe driving tips for seniors.

Safe driving at any age is about more than adjusting the mirrors, obeying traffic laws, and wearing a seat belt. But for older drivers, life’s physical changes can slow down reaction times and make it challenging to judge distances and see road signs.

Consider the following safe driving tips for seniors that can help them and others remain safe on the road.

Stay Physically Fit

Physical activity improves strength and flexibility, making it easier for seniors to turn the steering wheel, look over their shoulder when changing lanes, and make specific movements while driving and parking.

Work physical activity into your daily schedule. Walking, strength training, and stretching exercises contribute to overall physical fitness and safer driving for older adults. Those who have been sedentary should get their doctor’s approval before initiating an exercise program.

Understand Your Medications

Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can affect driver safety. Tranquilizers, sleep and pain medications, and cold remedies can cause drowsiness or dizziness. They might also have an impact on reaction times and other attention issues.  

Some prescriptions have warnings against driving while taking the medication. Certain non-prescription medications – antihistamines, for instance – may come with a similar warning. Review your medications with your doctor or a pharmacist to ensure that you’re not taking something that could result in unsafe driving.

Limit Distractions

Distracted driving is a frequent cause of accidents. Avoid talking or texting while you drive by silencing your phone and refusing to answer it. Some senior drivers lose their focus while listening to music or even holding a conversation with their passengers.  

Plan your route before you start driving so you won’t be tempted to look at a map or a set of directions as you go. In other words, don’t do anything that takes your focus off the road while you’re driving!

Stay Off the Roads in Bad Weather

Keep yourself safe by driving only during daylight. Many older adults experience visual problems at night. The combination of darkness and glare from oncoming headlights can make it extremely difficult for them to see.

Also, drive only in good weather, when there is less traffic, and on familiar roads. If rain, snow, or fog cause poor visibility or slippery roads, delay your trip, use public transportation, or hire a car service.

Get Your Vision and Hearing Tested Regularly

Two of the most critical senses for safe driving – hearing and vision – tend to decline with age. Impaired hearing can keep someone from hearing an emergency vehicle or an approaching train. Age-related vision issues make it difficult to see clearly or drive after dark.

Talk to your doctor about scheduling vision and hearing tests, even if you believe your hearing and vision are normal. One of the greatest safe driving tips for seniors includes checking in on your senses. Problems are often easier to correct if they are caught in the early stages.

Know Your Limitations

If you have physical limitations, you’ll need to make adjustments. For instance, a steering wheel cover could make it possible for arthritic hands to hold and turn the steering wheel. You could also consider a vehicle with larger dashboard dials or safety features that can help you avoid collisions, change lanes safely, or manage a blind spot.

New Vehicle Technologies Pair with Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

Here are a few features that help older drivers avoid crashes and make driving less stressful:

  • Navigation assistance: GPS systems make older drivers feel safer and more relaxed, as long as it’s easy to use.
  • Forward collision warning: These systems warn drivers if they are about to crash. When the potential collision is detected, the car applies the brakes automatically.
  • Automatic crash notification: When the airbags are deployed in a crash, the car automatically notifies emergency services that you’ve been involved in a traffic accident.
  • Parking assist with rear-view display: Back-up cameras show drivers what’s behind them as they back up, making parking and backing out of a parking space much more manageable.
  • Self-parking systems: This technology takes over steering while the car parallel parks itself.

Though many older adults may want to seek alternative forms of transportation out of caution, these safe driving tips for seniors can help keep them on the road longer.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff