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Get Around Safe and Sound … As Long As Possible


As we age, most of us will need to take steps to ensure that we can continue to drive safely. Changes in our visual, physical and mental abilities will affect each of us in different ways. In response to these changes, many adults adjust their driving. Below are tips to help drivers stay safe on the roads as we age.


Know The Fundamentals

Basic rules for safe driving apply to any age group:
  • Always wear corrective lenses as required.
  • Be rested. Don't drive when you are physically exhausted or sleep deprived.
  • Don't wear sunglasses in dim or dark conditions.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist how your medications affect driving. Be sure to include over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements in your discussion.
  • Always, always wear a safety belt and make certain everyone in the car with you wears a safety belt. Remember to wear safety belts correctly.


Avoid Risky Drive Times

Minimize or prevent high-stress situations by avoiding difficult traffic situations. As we age we may continue to drive safer longer by adjusting our habits:
  • Drive during daylight.
  • Drive in good weather.
  • Avoid rush-hour traffic.
  • Limit fast-paced highway driving.


Find A Safe Way

Consider driving with a friend or map out and practice the safest ways to routine destinations: grocery stores, churches, doctors' offices, shopping centers, etc. Look for:
  • Well-lit streets.
  • Left turns at controlled intersections with left turn arrows.
  • Clear signs and well-marked lanes.
  • Easy parking.


Go Back To School

Attend a driving course to keep updated on traffic laws and for suggestions of useful ways to adapt driving habits to accommodate aging. Some courses even qualify drivers for a reduction in auto insurance costs. Courses may be offered locally, or through national organizations such as:
  • AARP Driver Safety Program
  • AAA Mature Operators Program
  • National Safety Council


Drive A Safe Car

Look beyond the conventional safety features on a car. We should be sure our car offers a comfortable fit, maximum visibility and minimal physical strain. Consider these features:
  • Height-adjustable seats and safety belt anchors
  • Adjustable brake and gas pedals
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel (remember to sit at least 10 inches from driver air bag)
  • Good visibility
  • Legible instruments
  • Large, glare-proof mirrors
  • Push-button controls
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Power steering
  • Equipment such as pedal extenders and hand controls


Get Physical

Strength, flexibility and overall wellness contribute to our ability to remain a safe driver. We should:
  • Receive regular medical and eye exams to identify physical conditions that may affect driving.
  • Consult with a doctor about exercising to maintain the flexibility and strength needed for safe driving.


Plan Ahead

The time will likely come when we must limit or stop driving. But cutting back on our driving or stopping altogether doesn't mean retiring from life. Plan ahead. Learn about options for getting around your community to stay connected to activities that enhance quality of life.
  • Public transportation such as bus and trolley services
  • Senior shuttles
  • Community driving services
  • Friends and family
  • Taxi services

  This fact sheet is adapted with permission from "How to Help an Older Driver: A Guide for Planning Safe Transportation," published by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington, D.C. (www.seniordrivers.org).  


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