One of the fastest growing population segments of drivers is elderly drivers. In fact, there are over 1.1 million drivers ages 70 or over in Washington State alone. Unfortunately, elderly drivers are overrepresented in injury and fatal crashes. As we age, we may struggle with physical and mental declines that can make the task of driving more difficult.
So, what can elderly drivers do to reduce their risk? Here a few tips.
1. Get regular medical care. Stay on top of regular physical checkups with your doctor, including vision checks. If you need to start any new medications, make sure to ask if it’s safe to drive.
2. Stay active. Taking time out to go for daily walks and resistance training will help keep your body in shape. This is useful for maintaining good posture and mobility, which are essential for safe driving.
3. Know your limits. You may need to make adjustments to your driving as you age, and this is OK. For instance, you may need to limit your driving at night or inclement weather. Look for alternative transportation options or shift your plans.
4. Choose routes you’re comfortable with. You may feel more confident driving down well-lit, well-marked streets. Or avoiding going to stores that require tricky left-hand turns to exit. Or maybe the idea of taking the busy freeway isn’t your thing anymore. Identify routes that you know you can safely navigate.
Finally, there may come a time when you know it’s no longer safe to get behind the wheel. Ask a loved one to help you navigate all your options. Your community made have reduced-fee or even free carpool or bus services for elderly persons. There are likely good options available to you to retain your independence.