Fatal crash rates rise sharply after a driver reaches age 70. Understanding how aging is affecting your driving can help you make adjustments that allow you to continue to drive more safely, longer. Keep an eye out for these warning signs:
Conflicting medications: Certain medications or combination of drugs can affect your reflexes and ability to drive. Be especially careful if you take several medications a day, or notice a difference after starting a new medication.
Eyesight: Some eye conditions can affect your peripheral vision, cause trouble seeing and driving at night, and blurred vision. Can you see lights and stop signs? How quickly can you react to drivers coming from behind or from the side?
Hearing: You may not realize you’re missing important signals to drive safely if your hearing is declining. Can you hear emergency sirens or if someone is accelerating next to you?
Reflexes and range of motion: How quickly can you react if you need to brake suddenly? Have you ever confused the brake with the gas pedal? Do you get angry or flustered while driving? Do you have any pain or stiffness that makes it difficult to look over your shoulder?
Memory: Do you have problems missing exits or getting lost? If there’s a pattern that’s increasing, its time to get evaluated by a doctor.
Close calls: Are you having problems with fender benders, dents and scrapes from garage doors, curbs, tickets or warnings by law enforcement officers?
Understand your limitations. Brush up on your driving by taking a safety course offered in many communities. Talk to your doctor and get an opinion about your ability to drive safely. A certified driver rehabilitation specialist can provide an evaluation of skills needed to drive and recommend car modifications or tools to keep you driving as long as possible.
Source: “Senior Driving, Safety Tips, Warning Signs, and Knowing When to Stop,” www.HelpGuide.org.