Are you a safe driver? Do you know what a safe driver is?
I ask these questions of my friends over sixty. Notice that the question has nothing to do with driving records, accident history or the car you drive.
6 Safety Tips Senior Drivers Need To Know
Most people, when asked if they are a safe driver, instantly respond by saying something like, “I haven’t had a ticket in thirty years.”
I get it. Neither have I. But that is not the question.
I know a wonderful lady who is now 96 years old. She quit driving in her late 80’s. Not because she wanted to, but because her children made her stop.
In her early 80’s she got her first ticket. She was speeding. She was driving at the unthinkable break-neck speed of 35 mph.
The policeman asked if she know why he stopped her.
“I have no idea. I have never gotten a ticket in my life.”
“You won’t be able to say that anymore.” He replied. He proceeded to give her a speeding ticket for driving 35 mph in a 20 mph zone.
The point is, she had no idea. She was a real danger. Her speed, normally safe, was careless, even reckless in the area she was driving.
Here Are 6 Safety Issues Every Senior Driver Needs To Think About.
I am convinced that most older citizens still think like they’re in their thirties. I do. I think it’s normal. But we’re not.
The reaction time of us older people is slower. The time it takes to move the foot from the gas pedal to the brake is longer. Maybe a lot longer.
But it doesn’t end there. It also takes longer to realize there may be a problem. Couple that with slower times to hit the brake and who knows what may happen.
One thing’s for sure. We’re not as safe as we were at thirty.
Just because an older person is wearing their glasses doesn’t mean they see well. The eye test only tells us we can read a chart. Depth perception and peripheral vision are far more important.
You’re stopped at a traffic light. Did you notice the senior that stopped a full car length from the vehicle in front of them? It’s depth perception. Often the senior driver believes there is only a few feet separating their car from the one ahead.
Next time you pull into the garage, note how long it takes to edge forward to the place you want to stop.
How about the guy riding through the parking lot. He sails past traffic coming from the left or right. He acts is if he never saw the other cars.
Well, with poor peripheral vision, he probably didn’t. He’s not reckless or careless, He just has poor eyesight.
Hearing Is Failing
Noises do not alert those with poor hearing as well as in earlier years.
We all know the joke about the old guy who shouts, “What did he say?”
When hearing begins to fail, many get angry. Not at anyone in particular, but angry. It’s hard not hearing. It’s hard to drive and be surprised by a truck that suddenly pulls alongside.
Where did it come from? In earlier years we would have heard it coming, ‘a mile away.’
Memory Is Not What It Used To Be.
Missing a turn in familiar surroundings is common. Failing memories are not pleasant but it happens. We may joke about forgetting where we put the keys, but that’s just the beginning.
To forget where we are, or where we’re going can be, for lack of a better word, frightening.
Many areas in the United States have now instituted what is called a Silver Alert. Older people actually get lost. Authorities have a system in place to help find them. The dangers of being lost for extended periods is obvious.
Missing a turn or a momentary lapse of memory causes confusion. Confusion causes unpredictable actions and unpredictable actions can cause an accident. Or worse.
Here is an important point. If you’re one that does get lost, don’t panic. Understand that help is available. Just stop and ask.
Pay Attention, Be Focused
It seems the older we get, the more things we have on our mind. At the same time our minds are functioning at a slower pace.
The consequence can be disastrous.
When we are so focused on non driving concerns, our lack of attention to driving, places us at risk.
When we’re not focused, we miss the stopped school bus. When we’re not focused, we fail to see the construction crew in the roadway.
The scenarios are nearly endless. In the speeding ticket story earlier, our 80 something lady didn’t see that the speed limit had changed. She had, almost instantly, become a danger to children and pedestrians.
Older Citizen Are Taking Medication
Medications for older adults is normal. How the body reacts to the meds is the concern. Driving a car while taking medications needs to be done with extreme caution.
We have already seen what can happen in the previous safety issues. When medications are added, each of the previous can be much worse.
Imagine for a moment what might happen if a driver with poor peripheral vision suddenly became dizzy from medications.
Be careful. Exercise caution. Avoid driving when traffic is heaviest. Be aware of your shortcomings.
If you know you can’t hear, then shut off the radio. Crack the window a bit. It may give you just what you need to avoid a crash.
Lastly, try to understand that even though you have not had an accident, someone else may have had one, because of something you did.
They Are Called Accidents For A Reason.
Nobody has one on purpose. Being a safe driver is not an accident. It is a decision we make.
- Reduce your speed, always.
- Follow from a safer distance.
- Don’t be in a rush.
- Don’t drive in bad weather
- Avoid driving at night.
Are you a safe driver? Be aware of the 6 safety tips senior drivers need to consider. Know your own areas of higher risk and act accordingly.
Do this and you will be going a long way towards practicing safe driving.
Want to know more. Here is what the National Institute on Aging has to say.
If you have a comment or question, let us know in the comments section below. We not only read them, but we answer them as well.
If you would like updates on what we publish here. click on the red graphic on the right and we’ll see that you receive them by email.