Does it feel like senior drivers are the only safe drivers on the road? Road hogs, speeders, lane jumpers are all around us, trying to drive us off the road and succeeding at driving us crazy.
But no group of drivers is perfect, and that includes senior drivers. Serious at-fault accident figures shoot up for drivers over 70 and hit the stratosphere for drivers over 80. Drivers 75-84 have as many accident fatalities as those famously reckless teen-age drivers, and drivers over 85 are four times more likely than teens to die on the highway.
Are you as safe a driver as you think you are? Here’s a quick checklist to find out, and some suggestions for changes if you need them.
1. Do you Think Other Drivers are Going Too Fast?
If you've decreased your road speed as the years have gone by, remember that it's important to drive with the flow of traffic. Creeping along at a slower rate of speed can be just as dangerous as speeding. On the highway, other drivers expect cars to be moving at or near the speed limit. If you're going too slow, other cars can come up behind you before they realize it, causing them to make sudden lane changes, disrupting other drivers and causing dangerous road conditions. If you tend to drive at a leisurely pace, try to keep as close to the speed limit as possible.
2. Do you Have Trouble Seeing the Road at Night?
As people age, their eyes may suffer from a loss of night vision. If you're distracted by oncoming headlights, try shifting your vision slightly to the right, focusing on the edge of the road. It will cut down on the glare of those lights right in your eyes. Most rear-view mirrors have a switch to flip to night view and cut the glare of lights behind you. Also, keeping your windows very clean will cut down on glare, day or night. If the problem gets worse, consider limiting your driving to daylight hours.
3. Do Cars Seem to Appear Out of Nowhere, Especially From the Side?
Peripheral vision and depth perception both decline with age. If a car suddenly shoots in front of you, it may have been there all along but if your peripheral vision is impaired you wouldn't have been able to see it. To keep your vision sharp, you may want to visit an optometrist to have your vision examined every year or so. It may help you spot an out-of-nowhere car before an accident occurs.
4. Do you Have Trouble Hearing Other Cars and Sirens?
Do you think the ambulance that just flew past you was being reckless for speeding without a siren on? If so, it's possible that you may not have heard it. Hearing loss is common among senior drivers--and increasingly common among younger drivers, too. The most common hearing loss for seniors is in the high-frequency range, like police/ambulance sirens and car horns. If you feel that your hearing is not as sharp as it should be, consult a doctor for an exam and consider using a hearing aid while driving. It may be just the thing you need to regain total control while you're behind the wheel.
5. Does it Seem Like Inconsiderate Drivers are Always Honking at Senior Drivers?
Do you wonder what's happened to manners nowadays? For drivers of any age, constant or persistent honking from other drivers may be more than bad manners--it may be a warning that your driving skills have declined. Take it as a sign to sharpen your driving skills and pay close attention to the road at all times. Taking a safe driving course may help you pick up driving skills and improve your overall driving ability.
6. Do you Have Difficulty Finding Your Way While Driving?
Do you spend a lot of time trying to remember where to turn or how far to go on a certain road? Sometimes drivers let things slip their mind. The solution? Try to organize and plan better. Before you get in your car, plan your route. Look at a map if you’re unfamiliar with the road. Safe drivers of any age always give themselves plenty of time to get where they are going.
7. Do you Ever Drive in the Fast Lane?
The fast lane, or what truckers called the "hammer lane," is designed for picking up speed ("hammering it") and passing cars on your right. Hanging out in the hammer lane is a dangerous habit, especially for senior drivers. If you're unsure about driving at a high rate of speed, make it a habit to drive as far right as you can. If you're driving on a multi-lane freeway, use a middle-right lane. This keeps you from getting stuck in an unexpected exit-only lane.
8. Does Your Car Feel Heavier or Harder to Handle?
Is it harder to open the door or adjust the seat? If so, staying in shape, even just by walking several days a week, may help boost your physical strength. If you're looking for a new car, buy a model with power options and plenty of safety features. After all, you deserve a little comfort in your "golden years."
9. Does it Seem that Traffic is Always Slamming to a Stop in Front of You?
One of the most common changes for senior drivers is a sluggish reaction time. As you age, it may take longer for you to react to changes in traffic. One step senior drivers can take to minimize the risk of longer reaction times associated with age is to back off and increase the distance between them and the drivers in front of them. This gives them a greater stopping distance and can help prevent a crash.
Source: Free Insurance Advice