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9 Tips for Safer Senior Driving

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, June 27, 2017

You started driving decades ago, and years of experience often guarantee safer driving habits. But as we all know, aging can affect every part of our lives. That’s even true for driving! As your vision, hearing, or mobility changes, there are steps you should take to keep yourself safe on the road.

Schedule regular checkups. Talk to your primary care physician about vision and hearing screenings. These senses can decline suddenly and rapidly after about age 60, so seek a checkup at least once per year.

Stay on top of chronic health conditions. Chronic conditions affect more than your health; if you pass out or have a seizure while driving, the results could be disastrous. So remember to take all medications promptly as prescribed, and talk to your doctor immediately if you experience new symptoms.

Monitor medications. Before beginning any new medication, ask your doctor if it might cause drowsiness or impairment. This information should also be listed on the bottle. If so, abstain from driving until you’re sure of how this medication affects you.

Stay active. You don’t have to get out and run a marathon in order to stay in shape. Going for a walk each day, joining a water aerobics class, or practicing yoga are all terrific low-impact activities. The point is to work on flexibility, strength, and mobility so that things like turning the steering wheel or looking for oncoming traffic remain simple tasks for you.

Consider modifications or a new vehicle. Assess your needs, and decide whether modifications to your current vehicle can keep you safer. Something as simple as a ergonomic steering wheel cover can help to increase safety. On the other hand, it might be time for a new vehicle, with updated features that aid in changing lanes or managing your blind spot.

Don’t text and drive. It’s not just young people making this mistake! Using a cell phone while driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents. Put your phone on silent or even place it in the backseat, so that you aren’t even tempted to use it.

Don’t drive in poor conditions. If you can, it’s best to simply stay off the roads when they’re icy or wet.

Consider a refresher driving course. It’s been years since you first got your license, and laws or safety standards can change. Completing the course might even earn you a discount on your auto insurance policy, so ask your insurance agent about approved courses in your area.

Listen to your doctor and loved ones. If they are expressing concern about your ability to drive safely, it’s probably a sign that you need to look into alternate transportation options.

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