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7 Top Safety Measures For Senior Drivers

We all have various responsibilities that take us out of our homes and onto the open road. Whether our journeys are as simple as running errands or as exciting as embarking on cross-country adventures, it’s vital we stay safe. Both driving and travelling in automobiles are activities that require strict attention to safety. This is especially true for older adults.

Canada Safety Council reminds us that the aging process brings changes that can affect an older driver’s ability to drive safely. “These include: reduced vision, particularly at night; a decrease in depth perception; and movement-limiting disabilities such as arthritis and rheumatism that slow down response,” informs their website, “The rate of aging varies for each individual, but it is important to recognize age-related changes and learn how to compensate for them.”

Here are seven top safety measures for senior drivers:

1. Keep your vehicle in top-notch condition.

Having a maintained and properly-functioning vehicle is the first step towards safe travels. Never neglect to schedule regular maintenance checks for your car. We’re talking about oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections and fluid replacements to start. Adequately maintained vehicles are a lot less likely to break down or encounter unexpected issues on the road. Also, don’t forget to check your vehicle’s lights, signals and windshield wipers to ensure they’re in good working order.

Leslie Newlife of New LifeStyles advocates for regular self-checks. “Every driver, seniors included, should check out their car’s operating features every six to twelve months,” she advises, “Things we take for granted due to limited use, like the horn or panic button on the key fob, should be checked occasionally to ensure they work properly. Tire tread, brake sufficiency, and steering capacity are other functions that need to be evaluated periodically.”

2. Maintain good eye and ear health.

Clear vision and good hearing are vital for safe driving. Schedule regular eye exams to ensure your vision is up to par and that your prescription is current. Similarly, monitor your hearing and consider hearing aids, if necessary. Being able to see clearly and hear traffic sounds can significantly improve your driving safety.

“The Canadian Hearing Society estimates that in Canada more than 60% of seniors over the age of 65 have age-related hearing loss,” reports the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), “If any driver has hearing loss, it’s important that they take steps to treat it so that they can continue to drive safely. There are numerous effective treatments for age-related hearing loss, including surgery, or simply being fitted for a hearing aid.”

3. Be mindful of your medications.

If you’re on medication, be aware of how it may affect your driving abilities. Some medications can cause drowsiness or impair your reaction time. Of course, this can be dangerous when you are behind the wheel. Consult your health care provider to understand any potential side effects of your meds and how they may impact driving. If needed, make adjustments to your medication schedule or seek alternative transportation.

Sometimes, it’s best to explore alternative transportation options. If you no longer feel comfortable driving, don’t hesitate to use public transportation, taxis or rideshare services. Reach out to friends and family for rides as well. Your safety should always be the top priority.

4. Plan your routes in advance.

Be mindful of how long it will take for you to reach your destination. Leave with plenty of time to spare so that you’re not rushing through traffic. When possible, plan your trips during off-peak hours to avoid heavy traffic. As well, use GPS navigation systems, like Google Maps or Waze, to help you navigate routes that are less congested. Knowing your route in advance will reduce stress and allow you to focus on driving safely.

It’s also wise to take routes that you’re familiar with. That way, you won’t get too distracted while attempting to locate your destination. Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents. Minimize distractions by not using your phone while driving, even if it’s hands-free. Set your GPS and adjust your music or radio station before hitting the road. If you have passengers, enlist their help with navigation and adjusting settings.

5. Stay informed about driving regulations.

Driving regulations can change over time. Therefore, it’s essential to stay informed. Brush up on traffic laws and take refresher courses, if necessary. Some provinces may require seniors to renew their licences more frequently or undergo additional testing to ensure their driving skills are up to par.

“Many Canadian drivers would benefit from taking a driving refresher course,” says the CAA, “Bad driving habits can become ingrained, and we can all forget the proper procedures for certain driving skills. Refresher courses can help us identify and correct those bad driving habits, update us on traffic laws, improve our ability to handle driving challenges, and improve our confidence on the road.”

6. Drive defensively and wear your seatbelt.

Defensive driving is a skill that can save lives. Always stay aware of your surroundings and anticipate the actions of other drivers. It’s smart to maintain a safe following distance at all times. Of course, always use your turn signals, obey speed limits and be prepared for unexpected situations.

Also, as you’re a well aware, wearing your seatbelt is non-negotiable. Seatbelts are one of the most effective safety features in any vehicle and can significantly reduce the risk of injury in a collision. Ensure that all passengers are also buckled up before you start the engine.

7. Utilize wheelchair and scooter lifts for vehicles.

When individuals with mobility issues need to travel in vehicles, it’s necessary for them to bring along their mobility solutions. A wheelchair or scooter must be safely and securely placed in a vehicle – but this can be difficult without a wheelchair lift for vehicles.

At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we offer both wheelchair and scooter lifts for vans, trucks, SUVs and cars! To learn all about them, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!

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