There are more drivers over the age of 70 in the U.S. than ever before. With the largest population segment—baby boomers—beginning to enter their seventh decade, the number of older drivers on the road is likely to continue to increase.
If you are 70 or older, consider taking a Driver Safety Course through AAA, AARP, or other organization. It may be decades since you took your written and road tests to obtain your drivers license. Laws have changed. Cars have changed. Most likely, you have changed. A Driver Safety Course can help you attain the skills, knowledge, and adjustments you need to remain a good driver. It can also save you money on car insurance.
Follow these tips to be safe behind the wheel:
- Plan your route ahead of time, and find the safest route with well-lit streets and intersections with left turn arrows. Stick to familiar roads whenever possible.
- Don’t tailgate. Leave one car length between you and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 miles per hour of speed.
- Avoid distractions, including eating, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, and listening to loud music. Carrying on conversations with your passengers can also be distracting. Focus on driving.
- Do not text and drive. There is no safe way to multitask while driving.
- Do not drive tired. Studies show that driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
- Exercise regularly to increase strength, flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. Always check with your doctor before beginning any new activity.
- Have all your medications—prescription and overthe-counter—reviewed by your doctor or pharmacist to reduce risk of side effects and interactions.
- Stay alert and drive defensively. Be aware of what other vehicles on the road are doing.
- Maintain appropriate speed. Speeding is always dangerous and illegal. Driving under the speed limit can also cause accidents, and incur a moving violation. If you are too scared to drive the appropriate speed, it may be time to stop driving.
- Stay in your own lane, and obey all laws pertaining to driving and parking a motor vehicle.
- Keep your car in good working condition. Have regular oil changes. Have tire pressure checked regularly. Do not ignore “Check Engine Light” or unusual sounds.
When purchasing a new car, consider safety features, including:
- Backup Camera—eliminates blind spots and makes parallel parking easier.
- Lane Departure/Warning Mitigation—warns when vehicle drifts from its lane. Some systems steer the car back to its proper lane.
- Forward Collision Alert/Prevention—systems that warn you when the vehicle ahead stops suddenly, or someone/thing wanders in front of you.
- Blind Spot Warning—signals you with lights if a vehicle is in your blind spot.
- Self Driving Cars—while not yet available, they are on the horizon. Some car models already have the ability to park themselves.
If you are concerned about a family member or friend’s ability to drive, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for tips on how to initiate the conversation with compassion and sensitivity.