My grandfather Ted has been retired for some time now. He no longer needs to battle the daily commute to and from work. With more leisure time my grandpa plays a lot of golf, meets his buddies at the local elks lodge and drives my grandmother to the salon. While he is not on the road nearly as much as he used to, it is important that he drives safely on the road for his sake and the sake of other drivers.
Driving is a multi-faceted task. It requires individuals to see and hear clearly, pay close attention to other vehicles, traffic signs and signals all while reacting quickly to real-time events. If you or a loved one you know is a senior driving, follow some of my driving tips to make certain you are keeping yourself safe while driving.
- Save money on car insurance. Florida drivers 55 and over can save money on their car insurance by enrolling in an accident prevention course. The 6-hour course can be taken in a classroom or at the convenience of your home online. You will save 10% on your car insurance for the following 3 years. To find out more information about this course you can visit the Florida Drivers Association.
- Understand how aging affects driving. Like anything else, it is important for us to understand our bodies and the way they work. As we age, factors such as decreased vision, impaired hearing or slowed motor reflexes may become problematic. Aging tends to result in reduction of coordination, flexibility and strength – all of which can play a large role in the ability of a senior driving to safely control a car. If there is any doubt about whether someone is capable of driving, be sure to consult with a physician first.
- Medication reminders. Before operating a vehicle, consult with your physician to be certain medications or combinations of medications do not affect senses or reflexes. If you take multiple medications from more than one physician, be certain to give your primary care physician a list of all medications being administered.
- Wear your glasses. If you were prescription eyeglasses when driving, be sure to keep your prescription up-to-date. If you have specific glasses for day and or evening, be certain you are wearing the appropriate pair while driving.On sunny days add some style to your attire. Wearing polarized sunglasses can act as sunscreen for your eyes – protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. Also, wearing polarized sunglasses may help prevent against cataracts.
- Get situated before you start the car. Make sure your drive is comfortable and safe. Adjust the driver’s seat so the dashboard does not obscure your vision. Be certain that both side mirrors and overhead mirror give you a clear point of vision.
- Be an active driver. While driving, it is quite simple to get in a daydream state of mind. Take a more active driving approach by glancing frequently between the road ahead and both side mirrors. Taking a more active role could mean the difference between a near accident and an accident.
- Minimize distractions. Increase your concentration on the road by minimizing distractions. If you are like me, you probably love listening to your music loud enough for adjacent cars to hear. By turning off the radio and limiting cell phone use, drivers can increase concentration while driving.
- Keep medical information handy. No one ever wants to get in a car accident, but that’s why they are called accidents. In the event of a serious collision, having medical information handy for EMT’s and first responders is a great idea. MediPal has created a seatbelt ID that attaches to your seatbelt or visor with the capability of storing critical medical information in case of an emergency.
We live in a world full of drivers distracted with cell phones, GPS devices, music players and grooming – all while behind the wheel. It is important that you take extra steps to drive safely. A great resource for seniors and families with senior drivers is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you or someone you know no longer has the ability to drive, you may want to consider the services of a home care company. Senior home care companies offer services to accompany aging adults to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and special events.