Many of us have heard the jokes and stories about the driving skills of older drivers, or experienced our own parents and grandparents in action. We have encountered slow, careful drivers who seem to take an inordinate amount of time turning corners or entering driveways. Some of us have even become one of those elderly drivers.
The thing is that as we age, we become set in our ways and certain activities become a part of our daily routine and help define who we are. One of those activities is driving.
Are seniors the best drivers?
While most people believe that as we age our driving skills decrease, statistics prove that seniors usually make the best drivers because they have the experience to avoid problems and accidents. That is why their insurance gets progressively lower as they get older, as opposed to the high insurance rates of the new drivers in their teens and twenties.
While seniors are seen as the best drivers, they still need to take precautions before they head out on the road. Most of these precautions are common sense, but are designed to make one a little bit safer on the road.
Daytime vision. As we age, one of the problems is that our eyesight is not as good as it once was. Make sure you keep regular eye appointments for driving purposes and for health reasons as well. Your eyesight is especially important because it enables you to spot and avoid hazards on the road, including other drivers when necessary! If you need vision correction glasses then always wear them when your drive, and get them updated as often as necessary so that they are the correct strength for driving.
Night vision. However, general eyesight is not the main cause of accidents involving older drivers. That dubious honor goes to senior drivers out after dark. Night vision is actually the most pressing problem for the majority of seniors on the road. Some do not feel safe, and thus don’t feel confident when they are driving after dark.
Overly cautious drivers. Older seniors who hesitate or have trouble making decisions and are driving too slowly actually cause just as many accidents as those much younger who are driving too fast. Other just cannot see very well in the dark. Either way, if you do want to continue driving, the best option is only drive in the light of day!
Arthritis. Afflictions such as arthritis can affect your ability to drive safely. A stiffening of muscles and joints restricts your ability to move and therefore also impedes your reactions should you have to avoid a potential accident. Some doctors and physiotherapists advise seniors with arthritis to stretch or go through a quick exercise routine before getting behind the wheel of a car. They can tailor a little routine to your own personal needs, providing that you do not suffer with a more severe form of arthritis of course.
Dementia-related illness. Another ailment that could cause older drivers to have a difficult time driving is any dementia-related condition such as Alzheimer’s. Although much driving is by rote after decades of being on the road, there are certain movements and decisions that may become a problem if you have a form of dementia.
Know when to hang up your keys
There may come a time when you, or your senior loved one, must hang up your keys for good. The fact remains though that if you are not safe on the road then it is time to stop driving before you cause or are involved in a serious accident.
Anyone who is unfit to drive, regardless of age, and is still on the road just serves to make the road a more dangerous place to be, which is not fair to everyone else. As an older driver, pay particular attention to how you feel physically and mentally while you are driving, and you will know when the time is right to quit.