According to National Institute on Aging, there are four main challenges that older drivers (ages 65+) may face on the road:
- Trouble seeing
- Trouble hearing
- Dementia’s effects on driving
- Slower reaction time and reflexes
While these challenges might seem insurmountable, there are definitely steps you or a loved one can take to drive more safely. Older Driver Safety Week is every December, and aims to empower and educate aging adults by reaffirming that getting older doesn’t mean you have to turn in your keys just yet.
However, there are some steps you should definitely take to make driving safer as you age.
How to Drive More Safely as You Age
Visit the doctor every year.
A visit to your doctor every year can help you determine your individual level of risk while driving. Your doctor can test your hearing, reflexes, and vision, and can review your current medication list to see if any have side effects that could impact your driving ability. If you wear glasses, be sure to keep your prescription up to date.
Get advice from professional driving companies.
There are plenty of resources for older drivers, both locally and nationally. You can start by having your driving skills evaluated by a driving rehabilitation specialist, occupational therapist, or another trained professional. If you aren’t sure where to find one in Atlanta or the surrounding area, contact us at AgeWell and we can help. Another great option is to take a defensive driving course through organizations like AARP or the American Automobile Association (AAA) to freshen up your knowledge.
Make any necessary accommodations to your car.
You can make some adjustments to your car to make safe driving easier, such as getting blind spot mirrors. If possible, consider swapping your car for one with features like power steering, automatic transmission, and power brakes.
Take care of your body.
Be sure to exercise your body and your mind. 30 minutes of physical activity a day, like walking or stretching, can maintain and even improve strength, flexibility, and balance. Programs like Brain Health Bootcamp can also help keep your mind sharp.
Practice common sense while driving.
While driving, avoid anything that could be distracting, such as loud radio noise, talking on the phone, texting, or eating. Be sure to keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you. Determine the simplest routes to get to where you need to go, and try to avoid dimly lit side streets for better visibility. If you have to drive on the highway, stay in the right lane where traffic moves slightly slower.
AgeWell Atlanta helps aging adults and their families in the metro Atlanta area with support, resources, and warm handoff referrals to places that can help. If you have questions about driving as you age, or any other age-related topic, contact us today at 1.866.AGEWELL (243-9355) or [email protected]. For more posts about age-related topics, and events in the metro Atlanta area for aging adults and families, sign up for our weekly email newsletter.
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, an AgeWell Atlanta partner, hosts AARP Safe Driver’s Courses every year. For information on the upcoming course for Spring, click here.