Defensive Driving Tips for Seniors: How Older Adults Can Stay Safe Behind the Wheel

Enjoying the freedom of the open road is a privilege you may have earned several decades ago. As a senior, however, driving around town takes a bit more effort than before. Undoubtedly, that freedom can still reign as long as you follow a few best practices on the road. Defensive driving is ultimately your safest tool.

Keep up With Car Maintenance

Stay safe on the road with a tuned vehicle. Ideally, take the car to a trusted mechanic regularly. For example, they might top off the fluids, add air to the tires and check for any problems.

Additionally, opt for a few technological options, such as a backup camera. When coupled with the car’s rearview mirrors, the camera provides another angle for successful backing up, reports the National Institute on Aging. If you’ve had any trouble turning your head or body to see behind you, these cameras are an essential resource. While you may not be able to afford a car with all the newest safety options, you should prioritize these types of upgrades.

Prioritize Space Around the Car

Other drivers will come close to your vehicle on all sides except for the front. Stay in control of this space by braking and stopping farther away from other vehicles. If there’s ever a concern over braking fast enough, for example, this extra space allows for some error.

Furthermore, move over into another lane if you have a tailgater on your rear. You can’t control how close they come to your car, but you can allow them to drive past you by moving to the side.

Keep up With Medical Appointments

You want to feel your best behind the wheel. Dealing with chronic disease or pain can minimize your attention on the road, for instance. It is important to keep up with all medical appointments. If your doctor places you on a new medication, verify that it’s safe to use while operating a vehicle. Driving requires a lot of complex actions and thought processes. In the end, you want a clear mind and healthy reaction times to drive safely. This includes never driving when tired as it can also reduce your reaction time and create a dangerous situation for yourself and others in the road.

Plan the Drive

Ideally, create a driving plan for each outing. For example, know when and where you’ll be driving by mapping it out beforehand. Because most mature drivers are retired, try to drive during off-peak times, such as in the late morning or early afternoon. As a result, there will be fewer drivers on the road. Although there’s less traffic at night, avoid driving in darkness, too. Visibility at night is difficult for even the most talented drivers.

Additionally, remain on familiar streets during the drive. Casually driving around can confuse some drivers, which leads to possible accidents.

Avoid Distractions

Keep your eyes on the road is still a phrase that rings true today. In truth, there are many distractions in a standard vehicle, such as touchscreens, cellphones, navigation directions and more. Ideally, put your cellphone in a bag or the glove compartment. If it’s out of sight, you won’t be tempted to look away from the road. Because mature drivers have slower reflexes, looking away for a few seconds can create a dire situation.

Take a Refresher Course

According to Florida State University’s College of Medicine, taking a driving refresher course is a great way to solidify good habits and pinpoint bad practices. In many states, you might even gain an insurance discount based on course completion. Without a doubt, these classes give you more confidence on the road as you refresh those core ideas.

Preferably, listen to your loved ones if they’re concerned about your driving. In reality, aging does change how you react on the road. In the end, it may be safer to be driven around. Until then, employ these helpful tips for a lovely day out on the town.