As you age, many things begin to change, whether it’s the color of your hair, the quality of your sight, or your ability to drive safely while navigating rigorous roads and tormenting traffic.
Read on to learn tips on how to continue to drive safely as a senior, as well as how you can help keep the roads safe with 7 signs to detect dangerous driving in you or your loved ones.
7 Signs That Help Detect Dangerous Driving in a Senior
1. You have difficulty seeing obstructions in the road or reading traffic signs and signals.
One of the most important requirements of being a safe driver is having good vision. Driving requires drivers to be alert and reactive at all times to any stimuli, whether it’s a pedestrian crossing the street, a traffic sign, a stop light, or an obstruction in the road. Not being able to identify these things and react appropriately is not only dangerous for you, but to the people surrounding you.
2. You are easily overwhelmed by stimuli and have slower reaction and processing times.
As people get older, it’s natural for their reaction times to get slower. However, too slow of a reaction time when driving could be the difference between avoiding an accident or getting into a serious collision. If you are not able to react quickly enough or in an appropriate manner, you are putting yourself and others at risk.
3. You are easily lost, confused, distracted, or disoriented while driving, even in familiar places.
It’s normal to get a little lost or confused in unfamiliar locations once in a while. However, when you find yourself in a constant state of confusion or disorientation even in familiar places, driving can quickly become extremely dangerous.
4. You find yourself driving much slower than surrounding cars or the speed limit.
You don’t have to be a speed racer to stay on the road, but if you are driving significantly slower than surrounding traffic, this can cause many problems and ultimately lead to more accidents.
While it may sound surprising, driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as driving too fast. In fact, driving too slowly can lead to more road rage, police intervention, and fines.
5. You struggle with motor skills or dexterity and cannot keep steady hands on the wheel.
Safe driving requires you to have control over yourself physically and mentally. If you struggle with dexterity, motor skills, or pain that restricts your movement, driving is too dangerous to take the risk, not to mention not worth the discomfort or pain.
6. You have experienced an increasing amount of “close calls”, “near misses,” or reckless accidents.
While there are some factors that are out of our control such as the actions of other drivers on the road or unforeseen obstructions, if you find yourself getting into more reckless accidents, there is a chance that your driving skills are going downhill.
Take note of the condition of your car and the area surrounding where you park. Are there many scratches, scrapes, or dents on your car or the surrounding area? Do you find yourself making more reckless or careless mistakes when driving such as hitting poles, mailboxes, or backing into other cars? Do you notice others avoiding you on the road? If so, it might be time to consider retiring from behind the wheel.
7. You have increased levels of anxiety while you are driving.
Driving can be a stressful activity for anyone, but if you are consistently anxious or fearful in the car, this is a huge indicator that you probably shouldn’t be driving.
Anxiety or fear, in place of calmness and composure, can cause drivers to act recklessly or react sporadically, thus endangering themselves and others on the road. Furthermore, dealing with feelings of anxiety consistently is not beneficial for you or your mental health.
What Should I Do If I Exhibit Any of These Signs on the Road?
If you exhibit any of these signs on the road or are starting to doubt whether you should be behind the wheel anymore, it is time to consider retiring from driving. Though it may feel difficult to give up your driving days, your safety, as well as the safety of others, is by far the most important thing. Putting you and other people’s lives in danger to get to your desired destination is not worth the risk.
However, if you feel that your driving is not dangerous and just needs a bit of brushing up, you can always take a driving assessment or refresh your skills with a driving course. Click here for resources that can help you evaluate whether you should be on the road and be a safer and more confident driver as a senior.
What Should I Do If I am Concerned About a Loved One’s Safety While Driving?
Sometimes, the most difficult conversations are the most beneficial ones to have—Unfortunately, talking to a loved one about your concerns about their driving safety is one of them. It is worth the effort though, as this conversation could possibly save lives.
When talking to a loved one, it is important to stress that your concern comes from a place of love and caring for their wellbeing, rather than criticism. It is equally essential that you listen to them and hear what they have to say about the situation. Discuss possible solutions such as having a neighbor or family member drive, hiring someone to drive them around, or public transportation options that provide both of you with freedom and peace of mind. Whatever you do, try to be as gentle and understanding as possible.
However, if you feel that a loved one or other drivers are in immediate danger due to dangerous driving, you can report someone to authorities. Remember that above all, the safety and well-being of your loved one and the general public are most important.
If I Don’t Have Any Concerns, How Can I Continue to Be a Good Driver as a Senior?
Even if you don’t have any concerns about your driving, it never hurts to keep your driving skills sharp. As a senior, you can do this by enrolling in driving courses, taking driving assessment tests, frequently testing your vision, and getting regular medical examinations to evaluate your physical health.
Remember that being a safe driver is an ongoing commitment that requires practice and time. Choose to save lives and make the roads safer by being a responsible driver, regardless of your age.
To read more tips on driving safety, click here.