If you are getting into your senior years, you may be starting to think about how long you will be safe to drive. The answer may depend on your mental and physical health to determine if you are still able to think clearly and react quickly while you are behind the wheel. These tips can help you stay safe while driving:
• Get your eyes checked – You cannot drive safely if you cannot see clearly. Your eye doctor can check for macular degeneration, cataracts, and other age-related vision conditions that might affect your ability to drive and advise you on the best treatments.
• Wear your glasses - Your doctor can also prescribe glasses if you need them to help you see things at a distance. As you get older, your glasses prescription may need to change more often. You can also get special lenses with coatings that cut down on glare from oncoming headlights, and lenses that can reduce halos and starbursts around lights.
• Check your speed – Don’t drive faster than your eyes can adjust. The pupil is the opening in the eye that allows light images to enter. When we look at a bright light, the pupil constricts so less light gets in. When it’s dark, the pupil opens up to allow more light in. As we age, the pupil reacts more slowly to changes in the level of light. So if you pass from a bright area into a dark tunnel, your eyes will take longer to adjust. When driving at night, slow down a bit to give your eyes time to keep up with changes in light levels.
• Use extra care at intersections – With people crossing from several directions, intersections can be confusing for anyone. The most common reason for accidents in intersections is failure to yield, especially when making a left turn. So take an extra moment to be sure no one is coming before you make a turn.
• Avoid unfamiliar roads – It’s harder to see the road at night, which means unfamiliar roads are even more hazardous after dark. Add to that the difficulties of trying to find an address or read unfamiliar signs after dark and the risk of accidents goes up even higher. If possible, try to avoid driving on roads you are not used to at night. If you have to drive an unfamiliar route, get good directions to help you find your way.
• Put away the phone – Cell phones are distracting to any driver at any age. But older drivers may be slower to react if something goes wrong and the distraction of a cell phone can make your reactions slower yet. If you have to take a call while driving, find a safe place to pull off the road while you talk on the phone. If the phone rings while you are driving, let it ring. Don’t be distracted from the road while you look in the car to find the phone.
So how can you tell if you are still safe to drive? An article to follow will outline some signs of unsafe driving.