Your freedom to drive is not dependent upon your age. But age-related declines can hamper your ability to drive as safely as you should.
Older drivers may notice gradual changes in their reaction time, hearing, vision, memory and alertness. Medication, stiff joints and changes in sleep can also affect driving. Any of these variables can lead to seniors driving errors with tragic consequences.
According to the National Institutes of Health, common mistakes older drivers make include:
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to stay in their lane of traffic
- Misjudging the time or distance needed to turn in front of traffic
- Failing to stop completely at a stop sign
- Speeding or driving too slowly
Other driving challenges for seniors include failing to make sure it’s safe when backing out of a parking space, pulling out too closely in front of another car, and changing lanes in an unsafe manner.
AAA Senior Driving Self-Assessment
If you’ve noticed your reflexes may be slowing, or if you have concerns about a loved one’s driving skills, AAA offers several resources for both the senior driver and concerned friends and family. At seniordriving.aaa.com, seniors can learn how changes in the body can affect driving, and how to improve driving skills.
You can download Drivers 65 Plus, a brochure that offers a driving assessment exercise to help seniors evaluate their driving proficiency.
AAA Roadwise Review is an online interactive driving evaluation program for seniors that covers topics like mobility, flexibility, visual acuity, memory and speed processing. The exercises can be completed in 30 to 45 minutes and are also designed to help seniors improve their driving ability.
Senior Driver Safety Course
It never hurts to brush up on your driving skills, no matter your age. For a small fee, AARP offers the Driver Safety Classroom at various locations around town. Specific to the over-50 driver, the class reviews topics like minimizing blind spots, keeping a proper distance between cars, and making safe lane changes. The class also provides an overview of the latest technology in today’s new cars.
Age and driving need not be mutually exclusive. Being aware of how health changes can impact driving, learning how to make proactive changes in your driving habits and identifying any physical limitations will ensure you continue to be a safe driver in your golden years.