7 Driving Safety Tips and Resources for SeniorsNovember 24, 2022
7 Driving Safety Tips and Resources for Seniors
As of 2022, U.S. citizens have an average life expectancy of almost 80 years. Seniors today have busy schedules, and they’re not spending their leisure time at home in a rocking chair watching television.
These days, seniors are starting their own businesses, travelling, and learning new skills. Grandchildren can turn seniors into moms and dads all over again. And to carry out many of these activities, seniors are using their cars.
Senior drivers and highway safety
Senior drivers are on the increase, and that means more cars are on the road. Most seniors consider mobility essential, and statistics indicate that seniors are becoming better drivers.
Since 2000, the number of licensed drivers aged 65 and older has increased by 60%. In 2019, the percentage of seniors aged 70 and over with a driver’s license rose from 73% to 83%.
All things considered, senior drivers are as conscientious on the road as other drivers. In fact, drivers aged 70 and over had 12% fewer roadway fatalities in 2018 than in 1997.
However, seniors are more likely than younger drivers to develop problems with vision, hearing and reaction time. Those conditions can put seniors at risk on the road. Fortunately, the issues are relatively easy to correct.
Taking precautions ahead of time can prevent accidents, save you money and help you avoid breakdowns. Here are some basic driving safety tips that can help you give potential hazards a wide berth.
- Get your vision and hearing tested
States require drivers to pass periodic vision tests and to wear corrective lenses if needed. The minimum vision requirement in New Jersey is 20/50 in one or two eyes with or without corrective lenses.
In most places, drivers with acuity between 20/41 and 20/70 or without 140 degree peripheral vision can only drive during the day.
A hearing test is a good idea if you want to cover all the bases. Poor hearing can cause you to miss unusual car noises or sirens that could impact driving safety.
- Don’t drive while impaired
Falling asleep at the wheel is a leading cause of highway accidents. Don’t drive if you’re under the influence of alcohol or taking prescription medications that make you drowsy.
If you start to feel sleepy at the wheel, pull over and rest until you feel awake and alert. If your night vision isn’t what it should be, you might prefer to do your driving during daylight hours. Alternatively, corrective lenses for myopia can improve night vision.
- Take care of your car
Perform all required maintenance and oil changes on time. Get your car washed often to maintain clear window visibility. If you notice any changes in the way your car operates or detect unusual noises, see your mechanic as soon as possible.
- Get 24/7 breakdown coverage
Add roadside assistance to your insurance coverage or invest in an AAA membership. Whether your car is acting up or broken down, roadside assistance will dispatch a mechanic to get you up and running.
Roadside assistance mechanics can change a flat, charge or replace a battery, bring you some gas, perform minor mechanical first aid or dispatch a locksmith if you get locked out of your car.
If the situation is serious, roadside assistance can tow your vehicle to a service station and ensure that you get home safely.
- Keep your distance
Tailgating is incredibly dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends keeping three to four seconds of driving time between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
You are most likely to back-end another driver when there are fewer than two seconds of driving time between the both of you. The higher the speed of the vehicles, the more serious the wreck. Avoid tailgaters by staying in the slow lane unless you are making a left turn.
- Learn defensive driving
Defensive driving classes range from casual, fun and friendly affairs to formal classroom presentations complete with facts and figures. These classes can give your self-confidence a tremendous boost and help you feel empowered on the road.
- Keep the lights on
Driving with your lights on makes you highly visible to other drivers. The better they see you, the less likely they are to hit you. If you are blinded by oncoming traffic with LED headlights, look down and to the right. Use the right side of the road as a marker.
You can’t control road conditions or other drivers, but mindfulness while driving can keep you in the safe zone.