Safety tips for elderly drivers
Being able to drive is of vital importance to many elderly people, particularly those with reduced mobility. As you get older, however, driving may become more challenging, so it’s important to know how to stay safe behind the wheel.
Old age can have a detrimental effect on your reaction time, eyesight and hearing, which can result in you feeling less comfortable on the road. Long distance journeys and driving in the dark can prove quite challenging, and if you’re not entirely confident behind the wheel, it could be a risk to both your own safety and that of other road users.
A survey conducted earlier this year found that 73 per cent of road users are concerned by the behaviour of older motorists with six out of ten believing elderly drivers should be subject to regular sight and coordination checks. Despite that, however, there is no real evidence to suggest older drivers are more likely to have an accident than those in younger age groups.
There are over 4 million UK drivers over the age of 70, the majority of whom drive safely and confidently. They key is to know how to adjust to driving at an old age. Here are some tips to help you stay safe
Stay healthy, stay safe
Everyone ages differently, so it’s important to have your condition assessed in order to help you determine what effect it may have on your driving. Scheduling regular eye and hearing tests is a good starting point, as is a general health check with your GP.
Should you develop any health conditions or disabilities, you may be legally obliged to inform the DVLA. You may still able to drive despite having a health condition or disability, unless specifically instructed to stop by your doctor, in which case you must surrender your licence to the DVLA.
Adapt to suit your needs
Feeling comfortable whilst driving is crucial to staying safe on the road, and adjusting your car in order to suit your specific needs can work wonders for your overall driving experience.
If your current vehicle is aging a bit, it is worth considering an upgrade in order to enjoy the added comfort associated with new cars.
Alternatively, small adjustments such as purchasing support cushions to place on your seat, adapting your mirrors to make it easier to monitor traffic behind you or installing a steering wheel knob, which is particularly helpful for those with sore joints or back problems can help.
Know your limits
Trusting your own instincts is one of the most important aspects of driving in old age. If you feel uneasy about driving in the dark, then put your mind at ease by avoiding it entirely. The same goes for longer journeys, which can be both tiring and stressful. If you must travel long distances, break them up by scheduling regular stops and avoid travelling overnight.
Planning your journeys around rush hours and steering clear of busy city centres can also help ease the stress of driving, all depending on how comfortable you feel in various traffic conditions.
Refresh your skills and knowledge
You’re never too old to pick up new driving skills, and there’s certainly no shame in taking a few lessons to freshen up on certain aspects of your driving. Several driving schools offer lessons and refresher courses, which can be particularly helpful to elderly drivers, who can benefit from some tips and instructions from a professional instructor.
Even if you don’t believe you require the assistance of an instructor, reading up on the latest edition of the Highway Code will help you stay on top of driving laws and help you feel more confident on the road.
What are your top tips for helping elderly drivers stay safe on the road?