If Aging Changes You, Should You Change Your Driving?

aging driversOkay, so you’re old enough to enjoy the benefits of Medicare. That doesn’t mean you can’t continue to experience the freedom of owning a car. But as you age, physical changes will occur that can affect your driving.

What should you do to compensate? How can you make changes that will keep you safe so you can still enjoy an active life? We consulted the Triple AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and found some practical, easy methods to stay in “driving shape.”

We’ll summarize them for you, but you can access the Foundation’s findings here. You’ll see that the areas of concern are vision, cognition, fitness, and medication.

Your Eyes
We were surprised to learn that the amount of light needed to drive is much more as you age. For example, a 45-year-old requires four times as much light as a 19-year-old. For a 60-year-old it’s 10 times as much! As you know, almost all your driving decisions are made with information you get with your sight. Good vision is crucial.

  • Get regular eye exams
  • Trouble with night vision or glare? Limit your driving to day.
  • Turn your head frequently to compensate for narrower peripheral vision.
  • Keep your mirrors and windshield clean to make them crystal clear to your eyes.
  • Look up. Remember in driver training when we were told to look way ahead? Same holds true now, look one block ahead in the city and 20-30 seconds ahead on the open road.

Your Mind
You’re just as intelligent as you’ve always been, probably with experience even smarter. But age lengthens the time it takes the brain to process information. So, you will need more time to react while driving.

  • Leave more room in front of you and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Avoid left turns if these make you uncomfortable. If you can’t, pay extra attention to the speed of the cars coming at you.
  • Eliminate distractions. This is easy. Turn off the radio and don’t ever text and drive!
  • In unfamiliar places, plan your route ahead of time.
  • If you find freeways confusing or too fast-moving, use side roads.

Your Body
You will be a safer and better driver the more physically fit you are. So walk, play golf or tennis, garden, anything that helps keep you in shape. Also, work puzzles, crosswords or hobbies to keep you mentally sharp.

Your Medicines
Whatever age you are, medicine can make you drowsy or distracted. The medicines don’t even have to be prescription. Cold remedies, sleeping pills, and pain pills can affect your driving.

  • Read the labels and if they indicate that you should not use while operating heavy machinery, get someone else to drive.
  • Let your doctor know what nonprescription medication you’re taking so she will inform you as to how your prescriptions interact with them.
  • If any medication makes you feel drowsy, distracted, or disoriented, don’t drive.

By the time you reach your 60s, you’ve probably have more than 40 years of driving under your belt. Driving is routine. It’s not something you think much about. So what we’re asking is that you think a bit more about yourself and your lifestyle when it comes to driving a car at an older age.

Driving is important to your lifestyle and your sense of fun and freedom. But it is also too dangerous to take lightly. Know you limitations, stay healthy, and drive safely.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your New Hartford area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.

Posted on: November 7th, 2017 at 4:21pm by nkburns. Filed under: Uncategorized
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