Aging, by itself, should not discourage you from driving. However, the transformations that it brings to your body, such as a change in vision or reflexes, may affect your ability to drive safely. No matter your age, there are always ways to become a better driver. However, you must also be prepared to stop when the situation calls for it.
Age-related health conditions that may affect your driving ability
Genetics, lifestyle, general health and other factors can contribute to the onset of age-related health conditions. Common health issues associated with aging, such as stiffer joints and muscles, poorer vision and hearing, slowed response times, and illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, may make it more challenging to maneuver a vehicle.
Staying safe on the road
Over 40 million Americans over the age of 65 are actively driving. Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drivers in this age group are more vulnerable to fatal accidents than middle-aged drivers.
Here are some safety driving tips as you continue to drive throughout the years:
- Talk to your doctor about any health issues that may affect your driving. Vision, reflexes and hearing can degrade with age, affecting driving safety. Your doctor may suggest treatments and exercises to improve your condition while allowing you to drive.
- Drive only when you are at your best. Avoid getting behind the wheel when you are not feeling your best, whether because of illness, medication, fatigue or stress. These symptoms can impair your judgment and reaction time and put you at risk of a car accident.
- Avoid driving at night and in poor weather conditions. Even drivers with perfect vision face challenges when driving at night or in adverse weather conditions like heavy rain, fog or snow. If you need to be somewhere, consider waiting for the weather to clear or have someone else drive you.
- Consider taking a refresher course to keep your driving skills sharp. Taking a driving refresher course can help you remember the fundamentals, learn new information and regain your driving confidence.
It is normal to have a difficult time accepting that your driving skills are not like they used to be. The thought of giving up driving or having to rely solely on others can feel limiting.
Knowing when to stop
Giving up the freedom and autonomy that comes with driving your own vehicle is not easy. However, if you notice an increase in minor accidents, difficulty navigating familiar routes, missing traffic signs or increased anxiety while driving, it might be time to stop.
Aging is a part of life, not the end of it. Accepting the changes that come with age may help you avoid potentially dangerous situations.