Senior Drivers: How to navigate the road

19th June 2019
senior drivers

Nowadays, the roads are a lot busier than they used to be. Senior drivers are at risk more than most in these conditions. In this article, we have prepared some guidelines and tips to ensure the utmost safety on the roads.

How to Navigate the Road

 

It all starts with having the right car. A lot of older models just don’t have the same levels of technology that modern ones do. While it can seem scary to purchase a new up-to-date vehicle, it’s going to make driving a lot easier for you. For example, there will be electric seating adjustments so that you can see the road better, parking cameras and sensors so you don’t hit objects and climate control to make driving more comfortable. It may be best to think about purchasing a smaller car. Senior drivers can find them easier to manoeuvre out on the road, as well as easier to park.

Do you find it difficult to find your way to your destination? It always seems like there are roadworks or perhaps the traffic is stressing you out. Either way, it might be time to learn how to use a sat-nav. This can be a lifesaver when you’re travelling in the car. It can help find you the best route and inform you of any traffic stoppages on the way.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on your speed out on the road. Even if you’ve been driving for many years, road speeds are always changing. This is especially true with motorway roads and smart cameras. If you find that you’ve got a line of traffic behind you, you may be driving under the speed limit. The best thing you can do in this situation is to pull over and wait for the other cars to pass you.

Distractions are a problem in the modern world even for seniors. If you find that you are easily distracted, it’s best to travel with your mobile phone away from view and to turn off the radio. It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road and retaining your concentration. Even having the windows down and the wind whistling in can become distracting. If you get hungry or thirsty, you can pull over at the services and enjoy a snack. This is going to be a lot more comfortable and safer for travel.

If you still don’t feel confident driving on the roads, you can take a driving assessment. There are some programmes designed especially for seniors, testing your driving skills and giving you the opportunity to boost your confidence. For example, the AA offer a free Drive Confidence Court, while the Institute of Advanced Motorists specifically has a Mature Driver’s Assessment course. You can also choose to take private lessons with an instructor of your choice.

Senior Safety Tips

 

Here are some senior safety tips to help you navigate the road.

Living with Arthritis

As you get older, it’s natural for muscles and joints to feel stiff and sore sometimes. But if you’re living with arthritis, you’ll know it can be a lot more than just uncomfortable. You may find that it has started to get in the way of your driving. For example, you may struggle to look over your shoulder, use the gear stick or hold the clutch down.

If your arthritis is really bad, it may be best to see a doctor about this pain. But there can also be ways you can help yourself stay safe on the road. Namely, you can choose a car that is suitable for your needs. This can include choosing one with an automatic transmission to relieve some of the pressure. If you have an older vehicle, power steering is now standard on most new cars. You can also look out for models that have large mirrors. There is even the possibility of using hand controls for brake pedals.

Problems with Eyesight

Good eyesight is essential for safe driving. But this is also something that can deteriorate as you get older. It’s recommended to have your eyes tested every year after the age of 65. This will make sure that you can still drive confidently. It can also mean that if you already wear glasses, your prescription can be kept up-to-date. 

If you find the glare from headlights is impairing your vision and you have trouble with dark roads, it may be best to cut down on night time driving. In addition, sunset can cause the sun to be right in your line of vision – perhaps aim to be home before this time.

Issues with Hearing

Another problem that can arise as you grow older is hearing. Of course, it’s important that you can hear noises in the car, such as sirens behind you from the police, fire or ambulance services. You can also utilise your hearing for situations that you can’t see yet. It’s recommended to have your hearing checked if you think there may be a problem. Once you’re over the age of 50, it’s best to have a hearing test every three years to detect changes. It may be a case that you need a hearing aid to help you.

Slowing Reaction Times

You may notice that your reaction times are not as quick as they used to be. If you have stiff muscles, you might find it harder to react to situations too. In order to keep yourself safe on the road, it’s recommended to leave more space between you and the car in front. This creates a safe braking space in case of an emergency. You also want to brake earlier than you would normally. This makes sure you can stop in time when you need to.

If you’re finding it stressful to drive with a lot of other cars on the road, it’s recommended to avoid rush hour. This can help there to be less traffic on the road and make driving a lot more enjoyable again. You can also avoid driving on the motorway that these busy times where it’s faster driving speeds. 

Signs It Might be Time to Stop Driving

driving-test_

Unfortunately, there will be an age that you’re no longer confident driving. But if you have a friend or a relative, it can sometimes be hard to know when that age is if they’re stubborn. Here are some signs that it might be time to stop driving.

Crashes or ‘Near Misses’

If someone has been involved in a crash recently or had a ‘near miss’, these can be signs that it’s time to slow down. While it won’t always have been their fault, there could have been contributions that made the situation worse. Events like this will also knock someone’s confidence.

Warnings or Tickets

If the police have stopped someone to warm them about their driving or they have been issued with a ticket recently, it’s time to reconsider being out on the road. This is especially true if it’s out of character for the person.

Health Issues or Medication

There are some health conditions where driving is going to be unsafe. For example, it’s best to give up driving if you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke. If someone has been diagnosed with dementia, it won’t be safe to drive as the condition progresses.

There can also be certain medications that can affect your ability to drive safely. The doctor may recommend that you stop driving and it’s best to pay attention to this advice. Some medication can make you drowsy, dizzy or slow down your reaction time.

Always remember that not being able to drive anymore is not the end of the world. There are lots of alternatives to driving and public transport you can take advantage of. As a senior, you can access free bus passes and even discounts on rail transport. You can also ask members of your family or friends to give you a lift. The best thing you can do is realise that you no longer feel confident driving. You can stay safe and make sure no other drivers or pedestrians are put into any unnecessary danger.

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