PLAN: Before you begin driving, plan your route, make sure your car is properly prepared and make alternate transportation arrangements when appropriate.
SCAN: Pay close attention to what is happening all around you. Look and listen for situations that may require you to react quickly.
THINK: Consider how safety will be affected by what you have seen or heard.
DECIDE: Decide how to handle the situation so you feel in control.
ACT: Apply good judgement to eliminate unsafe acts and unsafe conditions.
Looking (or scanning) means paying attention to everything around you, including what other drivers are doing. You should always be aware of what is happening in front, behind and to both sides of your vehicle. Remember to keep your eyes focused on the road some distance ahead. As we age, we tend to focus on the road just in front of us. The sooner we see or hear a problem, the more time we have to react. Examples to watch for include; brake lights of the car in front of you, an emergency vehicle in the intersection ahead, a car in front of you turning onto the road, a honking horn, or road signs and traffic lights.
Now that you are fully aware of what is happening on the road, you now need to interpret these events and decide how you should respond based on what you see and hear. For instance: Why did the car in front of you put on their brake lights? Do you also need to slow down? How close is the car behind you? Is that a siren you hear? Where is it coming from?
Finally, you need to act. For instance, when you see an intersection ahead with a stop sign, you will need to check your rear view mirror, gently apply the brakes and slowly come to a complete stop a safe distance behind the car in front of you.
Taking a proactive approach to driving can make a real difference.
Strengths of Older Drivers
- Judgment – The best judgment comes with experience. History is full of leaders that made their best contributions later in life. Many current world leaders are in their 60s and older.
- Experience – Seniors have a wealth of experience. By the time we reach 80, most of us have been driving for years, on all kinds of roads and in all kinds of situations.
- Vitality – Seniors are now living longer, healthier and more active lives.
- Responsible – As a group, seniors are quite responsible. Seniors have a low rate of drinking and driving.
- Ability to Adapt – Seniors have shown they can adapt to the many changes that have occurred in roads and motor vehicles over the years. Many seniors also make changes in their driving habits, example; choosing not to drive at night, in bad weather or in heavy traffic. This ability to adapt is very important as we experience the effects of getting older.
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