One of the upsides to being a senior driver is having years of experience and being able to think critically while on the road. Also, older drivers can manage their emotions and impulses better than younger adults. Young adults are three times as likely to tailgate as senior citizens and much more likely to run a red light. Unfortunately, as you age, reaction time can slow, vision can be impaired and certain illnesses may affect driving skills.
If you feel that you may be putting yourself or others at risk on the road then talk to your doctor. Your primary physician will be able to make a qualified analysis of your driving capabilities and talk to you about alternatives or ways to make yourself safer on the road.
As a nation, we are living longer. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2028, drivers over the age of 75 will have grown from 18 million (in 2008) to 31 million. Between that time over 100,000 senior drivers could lose their lives. With the growth of the mobile web and texting, driving is becoming increasingly more dangerous for everyone. As a senior citizen, it is important to put into effect some tips to help keep you safe on the road.
Avoid left turns
This is the most important thing a senior can do to keep themselves and other people on the road safe. 28% of accidents involving seniors happen when the senior is attempting a left turn. It may take you a little longer to get to the grocery store, but it is a small price to pay for your safety.
Leave the left lane to the speeders
I do not condone speeding for anyone, but unfortunately, it is one of those permanent evils (like cockroaches). Staying in the right lane not only helps you make a quick exit, but keeps you away from some of the most dangerous drivers on the road.
Try to avoid the highway
If you can, just steer clear of the highway all together. In Dallas, I still get a little panicked whenever I merge onto 635 and often find ways to avoid it. On Mapquest you can find routes to your destination and choose an option that lets you avoid highways. It’s incredibly handy.
Avoid night driving
This rule is one that a lot of seniors follow for their own reasons. Street signs are harder to read at night and the headlights from other cars can be disorienting. On top of that, night time can bring out more dangerous driving from other people on the road.
It’s okay, just valet
I realize that valet parking is not provided everywhere, but in the Dallas metroplex it certainly is growing in popularity. It’s even at some of the local malls. On skinny side streets and busy traffic areas if you have the choice between parallel parking and valet, choose valet. Not only does it save you time from circling the parking lots and waiting for cars to move, but usually it’s free of charge. Sometimes there is a small fee and tipping your valet is encouraged when you pick up your car, but I think the small price is worth the big pay-off of your safety.
Use public transportation
Do your part for our earth and keep yourself safe at the same time. Also, it will keep you from spending money on gas. Walking to the bus stop can be beneficial to your health as well.
Don’t be Superman (or woman)
If you’ve recently been injured, are healing from an injury or have an illness such as athritis that affects your joints or driving ability; just don’t drive. Period. Your family and friends would be more than happy to give you rides to places you need to go. Do not be afraid to ask for any help.
Keep in mind that you need to be honest with yourself or your loved one when it comes to the decision to stop driving. It seems tough to give up such a regular part of your life, but the bottom line is keeping everyone safe on the road. Please feel free to leave your driving suggestions/tips in the comments.