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SENIOR DRIVING





Some people are perfectly capable of continuing to drive in their seventies, eighties, and even beyond. Unfortunately, many elders are at higher risk for automobile accidents. While most older people take appropriate steps when they detect a problem with their driving, it's not always obvious when a general health problem, vision problem, or a side effect of medications will lead to a driving impairment. That's when the observations of loved ones and health professionals are most vital. Self-awareness is the key. People who can accurately assess their fitness to drive can adjust their driving habits, and stay safe on the road. With smart self-management, you can retain the personal mobility that comes with driving, while limiting the risks to yourself and others. According to the Automobile Club of America, elderly drivers are more likely to receive traffic citations for failing to yield, turning improperly, and running red lights and stop signs - an indication of decreased driving ability. Medications: Unfortunately, Seniors often take more medications as they age. Certain medications, as well as a combination of medications and alcohol, can increase during driving. Do be particularly careful about medication side-effects and interactions between medications. Vision: If you have trouble seeing lane lines and other pavement markings, curbs, medians, other vehicles and pedestrians, especially at dawn, dusk and at night or problems reading highway. Do you have problems recognizing someone you know from across the street If the answer is yes: Make sure you always wear your glasses and that they are a current prescription. If you lose or break your glasses, don't rely on an old pair; replace them right away with your newest prescription. Avoid eyewear with side pieces that may block your vision. Do not wear sunglasses or tinted lenses at night. This reduces the amount of light that reaches your eyes and makes driving much more hazardous. Don't darken or tint your car windows. Avoid driving at dawn, dusk and night. If you are extremely light-sensitive, check with your eye doctor to see if it can be corrected. Keep your windshield, mirrors and headlights clean, and make sure your headlight aim is checked when your car is inspected. Choose a car with larger dials and easy-to-read symbols. Turn brightness up on the instrument panel. Sit high enough in your seat so that you can see the road for at least 10 feet in front of your car. This will make a big difference in reducing the amount of glare you experience from opposing headlights at night. Use a cushion if your car seats can't be raised. Also, look to the lower right side of the road when there is oncoming traffic. Some vehicles have rearview mirrors that automatically filter out glare; you might find this feature beneficial, especially for night time driving. If you are 60 or older, see an eye doctor every year to check for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other conditions associated with aging. Be aware of the changes in a family member or yourself if you encounter driving behavior that depicts:.

  • Failing to use turn signals, or changing lanes with using turn signals.

  • Abrupt lane changes and sudden braking, at the last moment or unnecessary acceleration.

  • Drifting into other lanes, of course, this is usually lack of attention to responsible driving.

  • Driving right by a highway exit.

  • Lack of attention to looking over the shoulder, when backing up.

  • Not utilizing side and the rear-view mirrors.

  • Trouble (confused) reading signs, or confusion on getting to a destination.

  • Confusion of the use of the brake and accelerator pedals, (This should be the end of driving!)

  • Oblivious for the concern for other drivers.

  • Obvious fear of others wishing to ride with the driver. (No one wishes to ride for real in Mr. Toads ride)

  • Getting lost, often.

  • Trouble paying attention to traffic signals, road signs, driving markings and "Pedestrian traffic".


A person 65 or older who is involved in a car accident is more likely to be seriously hurt, more likely to require hospitalization, and more likely to die than younger people involved in the same crash. If you feel that you have now reached the end of the road of your driving or a loved one has. There are other alternatives. Find out what is available in your community. You might be surprised at the possibilities: City buses, trams and subway systems. Taxi cabs and personalized driver services. Shuttle buses, such as those offered by churches, senior centers and retirement communities. If public transportation service is available in your area, ask a friend to help you. Going with someone who knows how to ride the bus or subway may make you feel more secure. Another question to pose is about the services and schedules of each type of transportation available to you, including whether they offer evening or weekend rides.

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