As we age, we know that there are things that become more challenging or difficult; one of those things being driving. We want to maintain our independence and we feel like driving helps us keep that independence by making sure we can get ourselves from place to place. Driving allows us to maintain our normal schedule. If you feel like you are not yet at a point where you need someone to drive you places, it is still important to make sure you are safe, understand your limitations, and know how to prepare for each trip, even if it is five minutes away to the grocery store.
Aging may cause us to have slower reaction times, so it is important to stick to the safety trick of staying behind the car in front of you by at least two car distances which only equals out to about three to four seconds behind them. Give yourself plenty of time to brake and to make sure you are aware of your surroundings.
We may be in the habit of using our turn signals at the last minute or just as a courtesy to other drivers; however, it may take us longer to feel comfortable changing lanes. In order to prepare others and yourself for lane changes or upcoming turns, don’t hesitate to turn on the signal earlier and be sure to check your surroundings before changing lanes.
Before heading out on the road, make sure you know your route. Don’t allow yourself to encounter any additional stress as you drive. Make sure you know the directions, have a clear understanding of how long it should take to get to your next destination, and if there are any reasons to cause additional concerns. If you are worried about hills, traffic lights, or busy downtown roads, try to plan your drive at a less busy time of the day, or find an alternate route.
We understand that there might be more comfort in driving at a slower speed so that you can react quicker and feel safer driving. A great trick is to stay in the right lane on the road so that faster traffic can pass by on the left side. The right lane is known as the “slow lane” so you will probably feel safer driving in the right lane.
Bad habits may have been created over the years of driving that may be hard for us to break, but if we can break those bad habits, we will increase our focus on driving safely. It is important to set the radio station before driving and then leave it alone. Don’t distract yourself with food or drinks during your drive. Stay focused on the task at hand; driving.
Hearing and eyesight are incredibly important for safe drivers and both of these senses decrease as we age. In order to keep you, as well as others, safe on the road, it is important that you are cleared for seeing signs, seeing traffic signals, and being able to see your surroundings.
This is a great tip for any driver; make sure to have a safety kit in your car! You can create your own kit, or buy a kit online. It would be a good idea for your kit to include a flashlight, blanket, water, snacks, flares, and a first aid kit. A safety kit can keep your mind at ease in case you get a flat tire, or end up lost or in an accident.
Car maintenance is another tip for any driver to remain safe on the road. However, as we age it becomes even more important to have great wiper blades, safe breaks, and functioning lights. There are so many important things to keep maintained with your car, so make sure to take it in for maintenance, regular oil changes, and for safety checks.
Seniors who want to continue driving may also need to understand where limitations lie when it comes to driving. It may not be that driving needs to be given up completely, but retained with certain conditions. Maybe limiting driving to slow traffic hours, full daylight, and dry road conditions may be the best option. If you have to go somewhere and these conditions are not possible, it may be time to accept some help. Find a backup plan for certain times of the year; specifically in Seattle, our weather is bad in the late fall and winter months. It is also darker during this time of year, making it harder to find a good time to get out on the road.
Seniors who are driving should remember to take driving seriously because you are not only putting your life at risk, but other’s lives at risk as well. Be safe, cautious, and alert while driving, and understand that there may be limitations to your driving.
Have a backup plan in case you don’t feel comfortable because it is important to remain independent and visit loved ones, do the things you enjoy, and get out of your house every now and then. Fedelta Home Care can help you remain independent and help with driving if you decide you need some assistance. We can be used on an “as-needed” basis and can create a schedule for your driving needs.