10 Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

Mar 30, 2016

10 Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

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Every year senior citizens are involved in tens of thousands of auto accidents across the United States. In 2012 alone, more than 5,500 seniors were killed in car accidents, while upward of 210,000 were injured. The Center for Disease Control released some other pretty terrifying statistics about seniors and driving, although, not all of them pointed toward the need to revoke seniors’ licenses.

While some seniors’ ability to drive a car may decrease as they age, that doesn’t always mean that all seniors are unfit to drive. Many seniors may feel that in order to stay independent, they must maintain a license and proper driving record. It is important that society remains unbiased in allowing seniors to continue driving, as long as they are deemed fit to drive by a physician.

There are also many precautionary actions that seniors can take to ensure that they are safe while driving. Certain things can almost eliminate the chance that a senior is harmed in an accident, or harms anyone else in an accident. 

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

  1. Seniors that may begin to feel uncomfortable or nervous while driving should avoid driving at times of high traffic. This would include morning, afternoon and evening rush hours.
  2. Seniors that are beginning to experience changes in vision should avoid driving at night. Night time driving can make things such as road signs more difficult to see, often leading to confusion or accidents.
  3. Seniors should keep their headlights on at all times. Making this a habit will eliminate the chance that a senior gets in the car at night or on a rainy day and forgets to turn on the headlights.
  4. Seniors should always keep two cars distance from the car in front of them while the car is in motion. This will help prevent any accidents if a car needs to come to a sudden stop.
  5. Seniors should see their physicians at least twice a year for hearing and vision tests to ensure they are still qualified to be driving a vehicle.
  6. Seniors should refrain from driving when on medication that may make them tired or drowsy.
  7. Seniors should avoid putting anything on windows that may decrease their ability to see properly, such as tint or stickers. Seniors should also make sure their windows are always clean, increasing visibility.
  8. If a senior is able, he or she should stick primarily to driving on streets they are familiar with. This will decrease any chance of getting lost, which may make the senior confused and frustrated.
  9. Seniors should always wear their seatbelts. While this may seem like common sense, a senior is more likely to become injured in a minor accident due to frailty or other age-related ailments.
  10. There are many other transportation options for seniors who need to get around, but shouldn’t be driving, such as buses, taxis, and loved ones. If a senior loses confidence in their ability to drive or loved one’s notice a decrease in safe driving habits, it may be time to talk about taking away the keys

Seniors and loved ones of seniors should speak to a physician who will recommend whether an individual is safe to continue driving. Another option for some seniors may be taking one of the AARP’s safe driving courses, that will help seniors learn how to handle things such as aggressive drivers. Driving is a big part of a senior’s life and provides them the freedom they need to feel independent, which in turn, will likely increase their quality of life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to get someone to drive my parent around and run errands when I’m not home?

Yes, there are programs included in home care that will allow your parent to receive transportation services even when you're unavailable. Speak with your home care provider to decide which type of caregiving services would be the best fit for your loved one's needs. 

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Can a senior with Alzheimer's disease still drive safely?

A senior in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related condition does not necessarily need to stop driving. However, drivers with these conditions might not know when they are an unsafe driver. As a senior, you should have a friend or family member that is willing to tell you when your driving becomes unsafe.

It is also important to tell a friend or family member if you become confused while driving. Seniors with moderate to severe dementia should not drive.

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