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Senior citizens behind the wheel - Some considerations for safe driving


In the coming two decades, the number of drivers aged 70 and over is going to double in India. As age advances, while there will be other issues that the elderly have to battle, there is no cut off as to a person should stop driving after attaining a particular age, because aging influence can vary significantly among individuals. But driving habits change with aging for any person. Impaired judgment due to declining vision and hearing, reduced reaction times, decreased strength and stiffness in the joints is common complaint with seniors behind the wheel.

Driving becomes a little more conservative especially with aging. Drivers alter the driving habits with aging (as in avoid heavy traffic zones and driving night time) to match their declining capabilities.

According to research driving at 65 years of age can increase risk crashes and when a person drives at age 75 there is a very high risk of fatal crash. The behavioral traits that could be responsible for the statistics include impaired judgment for left-hand turns in particular, drifting the lanes and slowed response to sudden change in the traffic situation. However, we made sure that the following could abundantly help a senior behind the steering wheel drive safely.

It is highly recommended that driving during night time is avoided.

Avoid driving during peak traffic hours, especially morning, lunch and evening heavy commute times.

As regards the car/vehicle have the windshield and rear view mirrors clean. Check the functioning of lights, the headlights and parking lights.

Raise the seat good enough to ensure a clear view. Add a cushion to raise the seat should there be a need.

If you want to play the music player keep the volume low. Avoid any other noise distractions too inside the vehicle. No matter how experienced a driver you are, do not use cell phone while driving.

Keep yourself all the time alert.

Always maintain safe braking distance between your car and the other vehicle ahead.

Brake early itself should you have to stop.

Check for functioning of windshield wipers before rainy season.

Auto transmission is good option and if available it's good for senior drivers.

Do not neglect getting periodical vision and hearing checked and use appropriate vision correcting lens and hearing aid when recommended.

When medicines need to be taken, make sure the labels on meds are read to know if they may impair driving skills. Should they, avoid driving after taking meds.



Avoid driving if you feel tired and/or distressed, and do not drive when there is inclement weather.

Do not venture into new routes and go on long routes. Also do not forget to wear the seat belt all the time.

With age you need to change over to a defensive driver. Do not over speed and avoid any and all distractions.

Regular health check-ups are very important to keep in good shape for driving and otherwise. Choose a car with auto transmission and power steering. Keep the car in ship shape. Have it regularly serviced and comply with maintenance schedule. To drive safely it is important to pay attention to body and equally important to paying attention to road conditions. The article doesn't undermine seniors' ability in driving, but aging impacts driving; it can't be denied and is research proven.

Last updated on 23-05-2011. Published on 23-05-2011. Written by .
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