Physical changes in older drivers that may effect driving skills
A natural part of the aging process involves changes in sensory
organs of the body. Look for changes in these areas:
Any change in your vision should be
immediately checked out by an eye specialist. Many vision changes
can be halted or compensated for if discovered early enough.
What you see out of the
corner of your eyes can diminish as part of the natural aging
process, or due to eye disease. Compensate for this problem by
turning your head more often to observe traffic on both sides of
your car or truck.
Your ability to judge
distances may not be quite as good as it once was. To compensate for
this, leave more room between your car and the car in front of you.
Use a three second rule: when the vehicle in front of you passes an
object, count slowly to three and see at the end of three seconds if
you pass that same object. If you pass the object sooner than three
seconds, you may be following the car in front of you too closely.
Your ability to adjust to low
light conditions and to recover from the glare from the headlights
of other cars may diminish because your eyes may not be able to
focus as quickly, or because of the effects of medication.
At the age of 45, you need four times as much light to drive
as you needed when you were 19.
At the age of 55, you need eight times as long to recover
from glare as when you were 16.
If nighttime driving is a problem, plan errands or events for the
daytime, or get someone else to drive.
Fine detail such as the writing on road
signs or the numbers on the speedometer may become more difficult to
see. If you have trouble seeing the wording on road signs or details
seem "fuzzy" a consultation with an eye specialist will often lead
to a practical solution.
Hearing high frequency sound
The ability to
hear sirens and horns is important, but may become more difficult as
you get older. Modern cars with interiors well-isolated from road
noise compound this situation. Lower the volume on the radio and
check your mirrors more often to see if emergency vehicles are near.
Aging often affects your joints and
muscles. Stiffness, pain, and loss of strength make driving more
difficult, in addition to less enjoyable. You can improve your
strength and flexibility by exercising regularly (follow your
doctor’s recommendations). Also, devices such as power steering,
larger mirrors, and automatic transmissions may make driving easier
As you age, your ability to react
quickly to changing conditions diminishes. Give yourself more time
to react to other vehicles and road conditions.
Prescription drugs and medications
sold over the counter, such as decongestants and cold remedies, may
cause drowsiness, impair hand/eye coordination, and affect judgment.
Be especially cautious when taking medicine for pain and arthritis.
Alcohol often intensifies the effects of medication! Be sure to read
all warning labels on the medication you take and ask your
pharmacist or doctor about precautions to take before getting behind
the wheel of a car.
For more information call (888) 560-3382.