According to the Smart Motorist, in the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers (persons 70 & over) is predicted to triple in the United States. As age increases, older drivers generally become more conservative on the road. Many mature drivers modify their driving habits (for instance to avoid busy highways or night-time driving) to match their declining capabilities. However, statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections.
Research on age-related driving concerns has shown that at around the age of 65 drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply, because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash-related injury and death. Three behavioral factors in particular may contribute to these statistics: poor judgement in making left-hand turns; drifting within the traffic lane; and decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation.
If you or your loved one is an older driver, there are many ways for you to stay safe on the road and continue to drive for many years. Much of it has to do with knowing your physical limits and capabilities. Here are some tips from AARP.
- Monitor your health. Be aware of any health changes such as vision, hearing, memory and concentration. Keep up with regular checkups and exercise.
- Keep a safe driving distance. Use the three-second rule when following another car, so you have time to react to any potential hazards.
- Avoid distractions. Anything that takes your eyes off the road is a distraction and that includes cell phone use, eating, using a GPS, and adjusting the radio.
- Adjust your fit. AARP is a member of the Car Fit program, where a team of technicians can help set up your vehicle to make sure it “fits” you for comfort and safety. Go to Car Fit to find a location near you.
- Self-regulate. Avoid driving during rush hour, at night, or in challenging weather conditions. Keep running your errands and appointments, but try to choose daylight and less busy times to travel.
- Go right. Lee says instead of making a left-hand turn, make three right turns instead to get to the same place instead of crossing traffic in a busy intersection.
- Don’t forget to stop. At stop signs, scan before proceeding and look for pavement markings. If you are behind another car, wait two seconds until they proceed through the sign before you move forward.
- Check your meds. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if medications you are taking could have an affect on your driving.
- Be aware of others. Bikes, motorcycles, and pedestrians can add more challenges to driving. Be extra vigilant in intersections and when merging.
- Keep a buffer. Have enough space around your vehicle so you have room to maneuver whether it is on the road or in a parking lot.
Stay safe out there friends!