Today, older drivers are on the road more than ever before, affording them the ability to live more independent lives; however, these drivers are also more at risk for car accidents than younger drivers. Here are some ways they can stay safe while behind the wheel:
Understanding Physical Limitations
It is important for older drivers to evaluate their physical condition before driving. First and foremost, older drivers should go for frequent vision checks to make sure that contact and eyeglass prescriptions are up to date. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that older drivers avoid driving at dusk and dawn, when the sun is directly in the driver’s line of vision. Driving can also take a toll on the body: The NIH warns against muscle and joint pain in older drivers, suggesting that older drivers look for cars that have power steering, automatic transmission, and larger mirrors.
Minimize Distractions on the Road
Minimizing distractions while driving is critical for everyone, especially older drivers. While most texting-while-driving laws are aimed at new and teen drivers, older adult drivers should still stay off their cell phones while on the road. In addition, a study done by AAA and the University of Utah shows that drivers between the ages of 55 and 75 are more likely to be distracted by in-car features, such as Bluetooth or GPS, than younger drivers. While these features are meant to enhance the driving experience, older drivers should consider whether these features will end up hindering their ability to drive safely. Older drivers can also practice using these features before using them on the road, in order to minimize the amount of time spent fumbling with commands.
Consider Alternate Forms of Transportation
Lastly, older drivers should consider whether it is still safe for them to drive. In the case that physical or mental condition is not suitable for driving, consider alternate forms of transportation, including rideshare services and public transportation. Though 85% of people over 65 have a cell phone, their use of rideshare services is still low. For those who are unable to drive, these services offer the ability to maintain independence. Lyft and Uber, the most popular rideshare services in the U.S., have begun to partner with healthcare providers to provide non-emergency medical transportation. Public transportation is also a good option for people who live in more metropolitan areas. Many cities offer “senior discounts,” making public transport an economical decision for many people.
Contact us for more information on driver safety and support after car accidents.