Driving is a strenuous activity. A driver is supposed to be both physical and mentally alert. The ageing process has a significant impact on the aforementioned. One becomes physical frail, less alert, and the ability of making the right judgment becomes impaired. Whereas, ageing varies from one person to another, the fact is that we will all age, or we have someone in our family who is aging and thus the welfare of such driver should be of utmost importance for all of us. In Britain, over four million license holders are seventy years and above with the oldest driver being 107 years old. The same is true for many western countries as many Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are now approaching or in their sunset years.
This raises the question, how safe is driving for seniors?
If you are a regular driver, you have definitely seen older drivers on the road. They are slow, always wearing a safety belt, and are less willing to take risk like a seventeen year old. The bottom line is that older drivers are safe drivers, but there are many traffic infringements that are mostly observed among senior drivers. For example, only recently an 84-year old woman died when she collided with several vehicles after driving the wrong way in Northumberland A1 highway in the United Kingdom. This was a classic example of poor judgment or memory failure. There are many other such unfortunate stories.
Senior drivers are often not willing to let go. For many, driving is one of the few remaining activities that they still enjoy as it puts them in control and the feeling of independence. That said, if have an ageing driver, the following are some of the signs that signals that it is time to move away from the driver seat:
• Regular confusion when driving
• Many minor accidents
• Forgetting useful car maintenance practices such as fueling the car
• Feeling of discomfort by passengers when the senior is driving
• Limited neck rotation
• Low visual acuity
• Failing hearing ability
• Feeling of exhaustion while or after driving
• Poor interpretation of traffic rules
If you stay with a senior and you have observed several traffic infringements, it is imperative that you clearly explain to the senior why it is time they give up driving before it is too late. Giving up driving for seniors is not easy as it means a total overhaul in their lifestyle. It means now using public transport, employing a driver, or hitching a ride from family members or friends. Proper measures should be put in place to facilitate a smooth transition.
For ageing driver who still believe that they have many miles ahead before finally giving up, the following tips will be vital for adding more driving miles ahead.
• Regular Eye check-up
Eyesight becomes impaired with an increase in old age. It is thus imperative to seek the advice of an eye doctor regularly as a proactive measure. If you have problems seeing during the night, driving should be limited to during the day.
• Check on hearing ability
Experts recommend that you have your hearing ability checked every three years. This is a sure way of ensuring that hearing problems are detected earlier before they fully manifest.
• Allow more room for reaction time
There should be adequate reaction room between you, and the car you are following. Driving should also be done when there is less traffic. Rush hour times should be avoided.
• Physical fitness is very important
Regular exercises reduce stiffness, improve agility and improve the cardiovascular rate leading to enhanced alertness.
• Avoid certain medication while driving
When planning to drive, avoid medicines which induce sleep or cause drowsiness
• Drive defensively
Defensive driving skills should be observed at all times. This is a sure way of avoiding road mishaps.