As we grow older we may need to pay closer attention to what is going on around us. Neck and trunk flexibility may make it harder to see things around us. In order to maintain fitness for driving, it is important to:
- Have regular medical, eye and hearing check-ups
- Care for our bodies (eat well, get enough sleep)
- Stay physically active
- Stay mentally active
- Be aware of the effects of drugs and alcohol
Regular check-ups, including review of medications, are necessary to catch and treat any medical problems. Good nutrition, getting enough sleep and staying mentally active (reading, doing crossword puzzles or playing cards) also helps us concentrate while driving.
Regular exercise will increase your flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. It will help you prevent falls and drive better!
The good news is that it is never too late to begin exercising and you will notice an immediate difference in how you feel.
Night Vision and Glare
Reduced night vision can make it more difficult to read road signs and see people walking or riding bikes.
- Do you find it hard to see driving at night?
- Does glare from the sun or lights of other cars bother you?
- Do you need to slow down to read unfamiliar road signs?
- Avoid night driving
- If you need to drive at night, allow 5 minutes for your eyes to adjust
- Avoid glare by looking to the right-hand side of the road rather than directly at the oncoming traffic
- Drive on well lit roads where possible
- Get regular eye examinations
- Keep your windshield, inside of windows and car lights clean
- Wear quality sun glasses
- Turn headlights on 30 minutes before sunset
- Always wear your latest prescription glasses. Don’t wear old glasses or someone else’s
Side Vision and Flexibility
As we grow older, we may need to pay closer attention to what is going on around us. Neck and trunk flexibility may make it harder to see things around us.
- Do you find it hard to turn to check your blind spot?
- Are you sometimes surprised by cars that appear beside you?
- Do you sometimes not notice people walking or riding on bikes at intersections?
- Do regular flexibility exercises
- Look for things happening to both sides of your car and well up the road
- Check mirrors regularly. Reduce your left side blind spot by adjusting your side mirrors. First, lean your head against the window, adjust your mirror outward so that when you look at the inside edge you can barely see the side of your car. If you use a wide-angle mirror, practice before using it in traffic
- Don’t drive in other car’s blind spot
- Always check before backing up
- Watch for people walking at intersections. Remember that they have the right of way. Pay attention to signs including at crosswalks and school zones.
- Avoid backing out of parking spaces if possible
- Park your car so that you can exit going forward
Judging and Reacting
Difficulty judging distance and slower reaction times can make it harder to deal with fast moving traffic.
- Do you find it hard to pull out in heavy traffic?
- Do you find it hard to judge the distance and speed of other cars?
- Do you find things happen too quickly for you to make good driving decisions?
- Keep a buffer of space around your car
- Stay 3 seconds of travelling time behind the car in front of you
- Slow down for bad weather or road conditions
- Brake smoothly and gradually
- Make sure that your front tires are pointed straight ahead while waiting to make a left turn
- Make 3 right turns rather than making a left
- Pre-plan your trip
- Check your rear view mirror when braking
- Stay mentally active (e.g., puzzles or crosswords)
- Avoid driving in bad weather
- Avoid heavy traffic and highway driving
- Drive at the speed limit, driving too slow is unsafe
- Switch to a road with a lower speed limit
- Drive in the right lane wherever possible
- Signal your intentions well in advance
- Check your mirrors often
Short lapses in attention can lead to missing important information like lights, stop signs and traffic conditions.
- Do you get lost while driving?
- Do you sometimes change lanes or merge without looking?
- Do you tend to drive much faster or slower than other traffic?
- Are you distracted or does your attention wander while driving?
- Do not let passengers, the radio or cell phone distract you
- Plan your driving for mid-morning when you are most rested, traffic is lighter and glare is less
- Plan so that you need to make fewer trips
- Avoid busy streets
- Take frequent breaks, stop for stretching and walking exercise
- Let someone else drive when you are tired or stop for a rest
- Avoid driving on less familiar roads
- When backing up ensure that you are in the correct gear and that your foot is on the correct pedal
- Do not drive when upset
- Do not drive in situations that make you nervous
- Always check your mirror and look over your shoulder before changing lanes or merging
Other Useful Tips
During the class discussion, your group may have come up with other tips. Write down those you feel are most useful.
It is important to keep this Personal Action Plan for safe driving up-to-date. As you get older, you will experience more changes. You need to continue to be aware of what you can do to help yourself drive safely.
The more difficulties that apply to you, the more important it is that you take a good look at your driving and consider talking with your doctor, family and friends.
It is up to all drivers to make changes to improve their driving.
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