It is easy to find stories in the news reporting accidents involving elderly drivers. As Americans live longer, senior driving safety is becoming a concern for many families. Whether you are concerned about your own driving or a family member, GoTrack has a put together a simple three step plan to promote safe senior driving.
One: An Honest Senior Driving Evaluation
The first step is an honest assessment of the driver’s physical condition. Start with an open, honest talk about driving. Address any concerns and recent experiences on the road. This is the time to figure out all of the potential problems so they can be solved!
Next comes a conversation with a trusted doctor. Vision and hearing tests allow senior drivers to catch potential problems early and, hopefully, correct them. A doctor can also help in other ways. They can evaluate physical factors, such as reaction speed. Is the driver is flexible enough to turn their head while backing up? Are they strong enough to open the doors of their vehicle? A doctor can help address these issues and many others. Finally, a doctor should help a driver review their current prescriptions. There may be potential side effects that could impair the ability to drive. Read more about about how a doctor can help at the National Institute of Health website and at the Mayo Clinic’s site.
Two: Senior Driving Courses And Resources
The second step is to be proactive about driving safety. Find a senior driving course to help maintain skills and keep drivers informed. The AARP and AAA both offer classes that can be taken online. In your area, there may be an option to attend an organized class instead. Also, be sure to check with your insurance company. Not only will they be able to direct you to senior driving safety courses in your area, they may provide a discount for participants.
In addition to driving classes, look for a good roadside assistance program. This way everyone knows help is available if there is some type of emergency. Discounted programs may be available through your auto dealer, insurance or other organizations.
Three: Drive The Right Car
Finally, it is important to evaluate the vehicle being driven. Obviously, it must be safe and well maintained. This is not enough, though. As a driver ages and their body changes, their needs in a vehicle may change. Are the doors, trunk and hood light enough to be easily opened and closed? Is it easy to get in and out of the driver’s seat? Are the gas, brake and clutch pedals still within reach? Can the driver clearly see out of the vehicle? The wrong car impairs anyone’s ability to drive safely.
Technology For Safe Driving
A car does not necessarily need to be replaced when it no longer fits the owner. There are many new technologies available to improve a car’s overall safety. Learning to use a GPS navigator, even one on a smartphone, may help senior drivers. A GPS tracker allows family to be aware of the driver’s location in case of emergency. A new car stereo equipped with Bluetooth adds hands free use of cell phones to older cars. Back up cameras are another relatively new safety feature that can be added to an older vehicle.
Simple Safety Fixes
Many useful modifications are both simple and inexpensive. Blindspots, for example, can be reduced by changing a car’s rearview mirror. Adding small adhesive concave mirrors to the passenger and driver side mirrors may also make a difference. Sometimes all that is necessary to reduce blindspots is proper mirror positioning. (Learn how to properly adjust mirrors in this Car & Driver article.) An inexpensive cell phone holder allows a driver to use their phone’s navigation program without looking down. Adjusting the driver’s seat and steering wheel position may be all that is required to make a car easier to drive.
Senior drivers (and their families) will feel more confident about their abilities after taking these simple steps. Hopefully, issues such as difficulty seeing at night or blindspots around the car can be addressed. Senior driving classes will keep skills sharp while roadside assistance and GPS tracking guarantee help is close in an emergency.