Many older adults can drive safely well into their 80’s, or even beyond. However, since various physical issues linked to aging can interfere with safe driving, it’s important that older drivers—and the people who care for them—evaluate their needs to keep them safe while they’re on the road.
There are many strengths seniors have over younger drivers
Experience - Seniors have a wealth of experience. By the time we reach 80, most seniors have been driving for many years, on all kinds of roads and in all sorts of situations.
Judgment – The best judgment comes directly from experience. History is full of leaders that made their best contributions later in life.
Knowledge – Seniors have accumulated so much knowledge over their driving careers about road safety and great driving practices.
Vitality - Seniors are now living longer, healthier and more active lives.
Responsible - As a group, seniors are very responsible. Seniors have a lower rates of drinking and driving and other dangerous driving habits such as speeding when compared younger drivers.
Ability to Adapt - Seniors are amazing and have shown they can adapt to the many changes in roads and motor vehicles over the years. Many seniors make changes in their driving habits — choosing not to drive at night, in bad weather or in heavy traffic for example.
With all of these strengths there are still a few things to keep in mind to help keep you and other drivers safe on the roads.
Seat Belts Save Lives
Buckle up every single time before starting your car.
Seatbelts are uncomfortable? Try adjusting the shoulder mount or purchase a shoulder pad that slips over the belt. These can help keep you comfy and safe.
Talking or texting while driving is very distracting and the cause of many accidents. So, stay focused on the road and other vehicles and leave your cell phone on silent, and do not answer it while you’re driving. Calls can wait until you’re safely stopped.
Do Not Eat While Driving
Eating and drinking can be distracting while driving. If you need to eat or drink, take a moment and pull into a safe area like a parking lot and finish all refreshments before getting back on the road.
Do Not Drink and Drive
Did you know that as we age, our ability to process alcohol may change? Even one glass of wine or beer may make senior drivers unsafe on the road, especially when mixed with some medications. So, be safe and don’t get behind the wheel after a drink.
Limit Those Distractions
Listening to music or audio books or even chatting with your passengers can be super distracting for some older drivers. If you find them distracting be sure to turn off the sound and avoid having conversations with others in the car. It’s ok to make the car a quiet zone for a while.
Keep Your Distance
Make sure there is always enough space between your car and the cars in front of you. And try to keep a safe distance from traffic behind you.
Daylight is Your Friend
Seniors, even those with good vision, can experience some visual problems after sunset. General darkness and glare from oncoming headlights make it more difficult to see. So be sure to drive during the daytime as whenever possible.
As we head into fall and ultimately winter its important to be safe on the roads. Rain, snow, fog and other hazardous conditions can be quite dangerous for seniors. Let the bad weather clear before you get on the road. If you must travel, use public transportation or a service like CANES Ride Connect (more information below).
Try to avoid highways that have ramps, which can be dangerous for senior drivers. It’s often much better to go a little out of your way to avoid highways, difficult intersections and lots of turns.
Rush Hour traffic can be stressful for all drivers, but particularly for senior drivers. Try to limit driving to those times when traffic is lighter. Nobody needs the stress of driving during Rush Hour.
Feeling Tired or Stressed?
It’s important to stay where you are until you’re well rested and calm. Driving when you’re not at your best can be very dangerous.
Some medications can make you feel drowsy and less alert than usual, or they can affect reaction time. Some prescriptions may warn against driving while taking the medication, so be sure to listen to these warnings. Make sure you are familiar with all your medications and review them with your healthcare team to see if your medications could make driving unsafe.
CANES Ride Connect
Did you know we have a transportation service here at CANES? Ride Connect provides transportation to and from Etobicoke, Brampton, Malton, Mississauga-Halton, Oakville, and Woodbridge areas. We serve seniors and clients with disabilities and specialize in rides to and from medical appointments, as well as grocery shopping and adult day programs.
To learn more visit: https://www.canes.on.ca/services/ride-connect-transportation
Or give us a call at 1-877-ride-025