As you get older, you may discover that basic physical movements become more labored. When you’re behind the wheel, this may make simple actions like turning the wheel and applying the gas/brake pedal more cumbersome. This is why road safety for older drivers is absolutely imperative. However, it’s possible for seniors to remain responsible and safe commuters. Here are some tips for senior motorists.
Road Safety Tips for Older Drivers
Drive an Appropriate Vehicle Model
If possible, look for a car model that may make daily commuting easier. Some older drivers lose the sharp skills necessary to perform trickier tasks, such as rear parking in a crowded parking lot. In this instance, a compact model may be better. More recent models also contain technology, such as cruise control and parking assistance, that makes some aspects of commuting more manageable.
Seniors can minimize strength and mobility loss by exercising regularly. This doesn’t have to be overly intense workouts. Just staying physically active and moving around throughout the day suffices. One study found that drivers over the age of 50 that exercised daily for at least 20 minutes performed better behind the wheel. This includes tasks like turning their heads to watch for cars before changing lanes, and rotating their bodies to scan for road hazards.
Maintain a Longer Following Distance
Older drivers may take longer to react to hazards, such as the vehicle in front coming to a sudden stop. The typical following distance is three to four seconds. Aim for five to six seconds. This will give you more time to react. This may mean driving at a slightly slower speed; this is okay. Don’t worry about vehicles behind you; they can pass you if they want to go faster.
Avoid Distracted Driving
Nobody should be multi-tasking when driving. However, it’s even more imperative for seniors to avoid distracted driving. When you’re behind the wheel, that’s all you should be doing, period. This means keep both hands on the wheel.
Do not talk on the phone, eat, or spend excessive time adjusting the radio. If you need to take one hand off the wheel to adjust the mirror or navigation system, do so quickly and immediately return your focus to the road.
Consider the Time to Drive
Try to limit your driving to day light hours when there’s ample visibility. If possible, refrain from driving altogether if there are adverse road conditions, such as rain or lane closures. Before driving anywhere, make a habit of checking the weather forecast and local traffic data.
Be Mindful of Medication
Do you take medication that causes side-effects? Some medications may lead to drowsiness and impair your ability to react. If you take any medicine, then let some time go by before driving. If you take your medication first thing in the morning, for example, then hold off on driving until the afternoon. If you must drive in the morning, then consider taking your medication later in the day. Speak with your doctor beforehand to determine if this is okay.
Choose Simpler Routes
Wherever your destination, choose the simplest route. Avoid routes that require multiple freeways or street changes. These routes entail more freeway merges or changing at intersections, which may present difficulties. It’s okay to go with a slightly longer route if it provides a simpler pathway to your destination.
We Assist with Senior Care
Driving may help seniors maintain a sense of independence. However, driving privileges also come with responsibilities. Seniors can also retain a sense of freedom through elderly care services from Home Instead. Our professional CareGivers can provide your aging loved ones with safe transportation so they do not have to worry about driving on busy roads.
We also provide a range of home care services in Lafayette, LA, and the surrounding areas. We have experience caring for seniors with diabetes, arthritis, and more. Give us a call today for a free consultation or to find out how we can improve the day-to-day living of your senior loved one.
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