Did you know that 90% of the decisions we make as drivers are based on what we see? This makes having good vision imperative to safe driving. What can you do? Get regular eye exams Always wear your glasses Keep your mirrors and windshields clean (INSIDE AND OUT) Sit high enough to see at least 3 inches over the steering wheel If necessary, limit your nighttime driving – As we age it becomes increasingly difficult to recover from the glare of oncoming headlights. It also takes longer to adjust to changes in lightness and darkness. Our peripheral vision and depth perception also decline over time.
Driving is a complex activity that requires a variety of high level cognitive skills. Staying active mentally helps our memory, visual processing and executive skills. Your brain needs exercise, just like the rest of your body. Work crossword puzzles, play scrabble, card games or checkers If possible, stay active socially – Civic, Church, Senior Center Groups Enjoy conversation with family, friends and neighbors Some seniors have part-time jobs
Driving also requires a certain amount of physical activity. Muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination are necessary for operating vehicle controls and turning to view traffic. Sit up straight – Good Posture is very important!! Get a cushion to sit on if necessary. With your doctor’s approval, develop an exercise program Walking, gardening, dancing, golf, tennis, bicycling or using a stationary bike – Stay Active!
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications may cause you to become drowsy and out-of-sorts and can lead to ‘distracted driving.’ Talk to your doctor about your medications and their possible side effects Read the labels for any warnings If it is a ‘new’ medication, you may want to wait a couple of days to see how it affects you before you ‘get behind the wheel If you have to go out, consider getting someone else to drive you if your medication makes you drowsy or disoriented
Driving requires dividing your attention between multiple activities and being able to react quickly to situations that often arise without warning. Always ‘Buckle Up’ before you ever put your car in gear Drive during the day, avoid rush you’re traffic, and plan your route before leaving Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead Obey the posted speed limit and drive defensively Keep alert to sounds outside your vehicle by limiting conversation and background noises Keep your eyes moving – look left and right as well as directly ahead at all intersections – data shows this is a danger area for seniors When possible, avoid driving during inclement weather Sit at least 10-12 inches from the steering wheel to avoid being injured by the airbag
SUMMARY BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY’S CHANGES KEEP UPDATED ON TRAFFIC LAWS LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE YOU KNOW TELL YOU REFRESH YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF SAFE DRIVING PRACTICES AND LAWS BY TAKING A DRIVER IMPROVEMENT COURSE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR MATURE DRIVERS IF NECESSARY, DISCUSS DRIVING WITH YOUR DOCTOR EVERYONE WANTS TO KEEP DRIVING FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, BUT, NO ONE WANTS TO BE A DANGER TO THEMSELVES OR TO OTHERS. SO, PLEASE USE COMMON SENSE AND BE PREPARED TO GIVE UP THE KEYS WHEN YOU CAN NO LONGER DRIVE SAFELY