Night Time Driving: Tips for Seniors

Jun 21, 2016

Night Time Driving: Tips for Seniors

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Minor vision loss is part of aging for many older adults, and unfortunately, a number of elderly individuals experiencing vision loss has been rising throughout the past decade. Furthermore, this can affect a senior’s ability to drive. About 90 percent of a reaction behind the wheel depends on the ability to see properly.

Driving at night becomes even more of an issue because seeing properly becomes difficult even for drivers with a minor visions loss. Other factors are working against safe, nighttime driving for seniors as well, such as an increase of intoxicated drivers on the road.

10 Senior Tips for Night Time Driving 

Fortunately, there are some precautionary measures that seniors can take if they must continue driving at nighttime. Here are ten tips for safe nighttime driving:

1. Be Honest with Yourself About your Driving Abilities - Have you noticed that you’ve been braking hard, or running through yellow lights at the last minute? Is it difficult for you to see the road signs? Be honest with yourself, and try to avoid driving at night.

2. Stick to the Roads You Know - It’s likely that you’re more confident on roads that you’re familiar with, which decreases the chance of being in an accident. So, if you find it necessary to drive at night, stick to familiar routes to avoid the likelihood of any mishaps.

3. Be Cautious When Approaching Intersections or Traffic Pattern Changes - Unfamiliar changes in traffic patterns can lead to accidents even for the best of drivers. So, if you notice lights, stop signs and changes in traffic patterns, such as road construction, be overly cautious – slow your speed and stay alerted!

4. Don’t Rush Yourself and Take Your Time - Allow yourself extra travel time when driving at night. This allows you to stay alerted, pay attention to speed limits and traffic patterns, and will ultimately reduce the risk of getting flustered behind the wheel.

5. Make Sure You Can See Clearly Through Your Windows - Vehicle windows get dirty easily, and they tend to fog up more often at night. Be sure that you can see all of your surroundings clearly through every window of the vehicle. This will reduce the likelihood of preventable fender benders.

6. Keep Up On Your Vehicles Maintenance - When was the last time you changed your oil or serviced your vehicle’s engine? How’s your tire pressure? Are all of your lights and turn signals working properly? Keeping up on minor maintenance can help ensure your safety while driving at night.

7. Keep Ample Space Between Yourself and Other Drivers - This is one of the best precautionary measures to take while driving. If the vehicle driving in front of you comes to a quick stop, it’s best that you are back further and have more time to react.

8. Be Sure All Mirrors Are Clean and Visible - Wipe down all vehicle mirrors from time to time to ensure you can see clearly through them. Don’t forget to move your mirrors so that you can see all sides of the vehicle!

9. Take Driving Courses - A driving course will help refresh your knowledge on the rules of the road, and help you feel more confident behind the wheel at night. Driving courses are available through a number of organizations, including local Department of Motor Vehicles.

10. See a Physician Regularly for Eye Exams - See your physician regularly for eye exams to be sure your eyes are still fit for driving at nighttime. Your physician will make recommendations based on your eyesight, as well as providing you with more tips for safe driving.

Follow these ten tips and you’ll be sure to stay while driving at night! If you feel that you are unfit to drive at night, don’t hesitate to ask a friend, family member or driving service to take you where you need to go.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I was told my diabetes can affect my vision. Is this true?

Yes, unfortunately diabetes can actually cause damage to the eyes. What happens is essentially this - higher blood glucose levels cause blood to become thicker, leading to more fluid around the lenses of the eye and blurred vision. High blood pressure is another way that the optic nerve can become damaged and can lead to blindness. If one’s blood glucose goes unchecked, retinopathy can cause permanent eye damage as well. Staying on top of your condition is one way to maintain healthy vision into your golden years!v

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What sorts of things happen to the eyes of people who develop cataracts?

Cataracts in seniors occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and obstructs one's vision. For seniors with diabetes, the risk of developing cataracts is greater. If you think that you or a loved one may be developing cataracts, it's important to see a doctor. However, there are some symptoms you can look for ahead of time:

  • Faded colors
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
  • Impaired vision at night caused by effects of bright lights
  • Halo around lights
  • Problems with glares from lamps or the sun
  • Double vision
  • White/cloudy spot in the lens of eyes

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