Five Safe Driving Tips for Older Drivers

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Five Safe Driving Tips for Older Drivers

Smiling older man driving convertible in Boca Raton

Smiling older man driving convertible in Boca Raton

Physical movements can become a challenge as our bodies grow older. In fact, most older individuals will experience some degree of physical or mental decline as they reach their

senior years.

There’s no straight-line prediction that can be made about older people or their driving capabilities. There are some people in their 90s who can drive safely and drivers in their 60s who probably shouldn’t be on the road anymore.

It’s often up to older drivers and their families to make an informed decision about driving ability. If you don’t believe you can safely operate a vehicle anymore, it’s likely in your best interest to voluntarily hang up your keys.

The good news is there are a variety of things older drivers in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County can do to maintain their driving abilities.

  1. Do Your Best to Remain Physically Active

While it’s often easier said than done, staying active is essential to your health and wellbeing. When you work out or go for a walk, you are strengthening your body and adding more flexibility to your muscles.

Actions like safely looking over your shoulder to change lanes or switching between the gas and brake requires a degree of flexibility and dexterity. Stretching or swimming can be great (and hopefully easy) exercises for older adults to help them maintain the minimum range of motion necessary to perform these standard driving tasks. If you’ve had previous health concerns or limitations, be sure to clear any physical activity with your doctor.

  1. Schedule Preventative Medical Appointments

Keep up with all preventative exams and doctor’s visits, especially as you get older. For example, scheduling regular hearing and vision exams is a good habit to get into, as our senses tend to decline with age. In some cases, a medical condition related to your vision or hearing can be corrected and/or treated if caught early enough.

Common health issues that may impair your ability to drive include hearing loss, glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

  1. Take A Driving Course

If it’s been many decades since you first got your driver’s license, it may be a good idea to take a refresher course. While the rules of the road are mostly the same as when you first started driving, it won’t hurt to formally review traffic laws and driving best practices.

Seniors in Boca Raton and other Florida cities can find driving courses for older drivers through community education programs or local organizations.

  1. Always Minimize Distractions

From cell phones to passengers, distractions are all around us. Don’t be afraid to take necessary measures to ensure you won’t be easily distracted while driving. Distractions include things like texting or talking on the phone, listening to an audiobook or music, or having a conversation with a passenger.

Absent-minded driving is never safe for you or the other drivers on the road. Be sure you are focused anytime you get into the driver’s seat.

  1. Be Responsible When Taking Medications

You may be taking medications that are necessary for your health. All medicines have potential side effects, so be sure to know and understand how they could impact you and your ability to operate a vehicle safely. Medications that may cause dizziness or drowsiness are often not safe to take while driving.

Most medications that are not safe to take while operating machinery will usually tell you on the label. If you are not sure if your medication can affect driving safety, check with your pharmacist or doctor.

Things You Should Avoid as an Older Driver in Boca Raton

  • Bad weather conditions
  • Drinking and driving
  • Not wearing your seatbelt
  • Eating while driving
  • Potentially dangerous routes
  • Driving at night

Are Older Drivers Inherently Dangerous?

No – there are many Florida seniors who can still operate a vehicle safely. In some ways, older drivers are safer than other demographics. They tend to be on the road less and they’re less likely to speed or participate in overtly risky behavior. However, a decline in cognition, reaction speed, hearing loss and vision decline can negatively impact a senior’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.

If you are experiencing effects of aging that impact your driving ability, it may be in your best interest to see a doctor and learn about corrective options.