According to data in 2015, there were more than 40 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States. Seniors value their independence and the majority of active older adults prefer to drive. However, while driving keeps seniors mobile and independent, there is a greater risk of getting seriously injured in a vehicle accident as you age.
Reasons why seniors are more at risk of driving accidents
One reason why seniors are more likely to get into accidents while driving is because of their deteriorating health and mobility. A research has shown that weaker muscles, limited range of motion, and reduced flexibility affects seniors’ ability to drive. Moreover, more than 75% of drivers aged 65 or older use one or more medications, but less than one-third acknowledged the potential impact of the medications on their driving performance. Whether you’re aging at home or staying at an assisted living facility, it’s crucial that you follow some safety measures when you’re out on the road. Here are some safety tips for senior drivers.
Exercising can help to improve your strength and flexibility so you can easily turn the steering wheel, look over your shoulder when you’re parking, or make other movements while you’re driving. Older adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of aerobic activity every week coupled with muscle-strengthening activities twice a week, so seniors can combine brisk walking with lifting weights, or working out with resistance bands to keep fit and drive easily.
Have your eyes and ears checked regularly
Hearing and vision can decline with age, so plan for a check-up every one to two years. Older adults who wear glasses or contact lenses should have regular eye checkups so that an optometrist or an eye doctor can determine if your prescription needs to be changed.
Wear the right shoes and eyewear for driving
Polarized sunglasses can help to reduce glare while driving. You should also never drive without your eyeglasses if you can’t see clearly without them. Seniors can benefit from wearing comfortable footwear for driving, such as driving shoes, which are designed not to slip off the pedals while you’re on the road.
Clean your car
Dirt on your windshield, side mirrors, and windows can compromise your driving. Older adults should make it a point to give these parts a quick cleaning before heading out of the driveway.
Check your medications
If your medicine label warns you not to use it if you’re going to operate heavy machinery, then you should never drive while taking the medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s possible to adjust the dose or timing to reduce the side effects.
Keeping safe while driving should be a priority for older drivers. Follow these tips to stay safe and injury-free while you’re on the road.