Many older adults like to maintain their independence by driving, and you may be one of them. However, slowed reaction times (among other factors) make it important for seniors to follow best safety practices.
With our senior driver safety checklist and self-assessment, you can form a plan to prevent accidents before you go out on the road.
A Checklist for Your Vehicle
Having a vehicle that works is one thing. Having a vehicle that works for you is a different matter. Anytime you use your vehicle, check the following:
- Rearview mirrors or backup cameras
- Side mirrors
- The steering wheel’s position
- Your seat’s position
- Your foot’s distance from pedals
- Any blind spots
- Your tires’ air pressure and alignment
You should also check that your signals work and you can hear them. Make sure to keep your vehicle regularly serviced and address any suspected issues. Additionally, small changes, like adding fisheye mirrors to your side mirrors, can help eliminate problems, like blind spots.
Ultimately, make sure you’re comfortable behind the wheel. If you’re in pain, don’t feel right, or have trouble using any part of the vehicle, you should avoid driving.
Stay Aware on the Road, Especially When Turning
Some aspects of driving can be particularly challenging for aging adults. For example, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), many collisions involving seniors involve left turns. Turning at intersections requires paying attention to a number of variables—traffic signals, street signs, other drivers, pedestrians, and other factors.
To stay safe while turning, check that you:
- Reduce speed enough to stop or turn
- Use your turn signal
- Have entered the correct turn lane
- Have looked for pedestrians and cyclists where you’re turning
- Are adhering to traffic lights or signs
AARP even suggests using three right turns instead of a single left turn to go the direction you want, particularly if there isn’t a protected left turn with an arrow.
A Checklist for Yourself
Staying in touch with your own body is an important aspect of following best safety practices. When assessing whether you can safely drive, you should consider your:
- Reaction times
First and foremost, receive regular health checkups, especially those that check your hearing and vision. Research whether any medications you are taking might interfere with your reaction times, decision making, or other senses. You want to feel present and alert while driving.
Ask Yourself These Questions Before Getting Behind the Wheel
If you’re not sure whether you’re safe to drive, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I hear horns or sirens?
- Do my hearing aids work and have enough battery?
- Can I read signs clearly?
- Do I need glasses or contact lenses?
- How is my peripheral vision?
- Is my windshield clean?
- Am I leaving adequate room between myself and other vehicles?
- Is it safer for me to drive during the day rather than at night?
- Do I feel groggy or fatigued after taking certain medications?
You may take additional precautions than those listed above. For instance, if you need to make a long trip, you might consider visiting your doctor and getting a wellness exam. They can provide additional recommendations to ensure a safe journey.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Risks with Specific Medical Conditions
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizes that older adults make up a significant part of the driving population. The organization acknowledges that seniors living with these conditions should take extra precautions when driving:
- Macular degeneration
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sleep apnea
For instance, you may not realize that your diabetes could cause blurry vision, confusion, disorientation, or even loss of consciousness. Nerve damage caused by diabetes can also make it harder for you to react while driving. The NHTSA offers some recommendations, such as testing your blood sugar before driving and keeping snacks with you if you’re hypoglycemic.
Whatever your health conditions (or that of your older loved one), have a detailed discussion with your doctor about those conditions in relation to operating a motor vehicle. Everyone may be affected differently, and monitoring your health can help you stay safe on the road.
Call Us if You or a Loved One Was Injured While Driving
If you took a senior driver safety checklist and self-assessment before driving, but find your age is being used against you after an accident, the car accident lawyers at D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ can stand up for you.
Senior adults deserve respect and recognition for injuries caused by carelessness. Call our office today to learn more about seniors and car accidents with a free consultation: 1 (855) PRO-LAWYERS.