To many people driving is symbol of true independence, which began in the teen years. As time goes by, however, the effects of aging may influence the ability to maintain the skills needed to remain safely behind the wheel. It’s important to remember that when you’re driving, you have others around you who may affected by the sharpness of those skills. Vision, hearing, flexibility, reflexes, and the effects of certain medications, change as people age.
Here are some things for mature drivers and their loved ones to consider when discussing if it’s time to stop driving.
- It is important to realize limitations when it comes to safe driving. AAA provides a couple of great evaluation tools for this. Check the possible effects of medications on the ability to drive at: http://www.roadwiserx.com/index.aspx
- They also offer self-rated evaluations which check to see if you are engaging in any risky behaviors while driving.
- A licensed professional driving school could also provide you with an in-car evaluation of driving skills.
- There are clinical assessments that can be done by trained specialists to identify medical causes of driving challenges.
Discuss the results of assessments in an open and honest way. If in any way you feel you are unsafe to continue doing so, please choose to not drive.
If you have decided to continue, remember that driving involves the mind and body working together, and both should be kept healthy. Consider these additional tips to help you be safe.
- Get regular physical check-ups, including vision and hearing checks.
- Plan your route ahead of time, so you don’t have to make last minute decisions. Don’t use freeways when you feel they are confusing or too fast moving. Find alternate routes using surface roads. Keep focused, look for trouble before you reach it. Listen for objects which may not be immediately noticeable.
- Leave a greater distance between you and the car on front of you, which will allow for more time to stop.
- Read all prescription bottles, if there is a warning against driving while using the medication let someone else drive, or use public transportation.