Senior drivers should consider many factors before getting behind the wheel. For most people, age comes with an inevitable decline in eyesight and motor skills. The points below are subject to each individual and may not be universally applicable, but are important considerations for any senior driver.
Evaluate the following by sitting in the car without the motor running:
- Check driver seat positioning and the distance to foot pedals.
- Are lumbar, head rest and seat back supports in proper position?
- Do any mirrors (rear view, passenger and driver side views) need to be repositioned?
- Check seat belt comfort and positioning (does it cut your neck and how is it normally worn).
- Looking straight ahead, can you see over the steering wheel properly and do you have sightlines out of the corner of each eye without turning your head.
Regardless of age, all drivers must be able to see clearly, possess working peripheral vision, and make quick judgments regarding distance. Vision impairment is the number-one reason why driver’s licenses are revoked.
- Get regular eye exams to ensure your eyesight is protected against glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracs.
- Be sure that eyeglasses, windshield and mirrors are clean. Avoid wide-framed glasses, as the bow has potential to impair peripheral vision.
- Advanced age can make properly judging distance more difficult. If this is a concern, then be sure to allow extra distance between vehicles ahead of you on the road for safety. Always give yourself ample time to brake for slowed traffic ahead.
- Whenever possible, drive when daylight is strongest. Understand that during dusk and night-time more people have difficulty with vision. Oncoming headlight glare, judging distance of brake lights ahead setting sun, and even animals darting across the road can be problems.
As with vision, your hearing should be as acute as possible when behind the wheel. Important information and signals like sirens, horns and children’s voices are impossible to hear if music is loud, windows are up and hearing is poor.
- Check the car’s turn signal and listen for its click-click; if you can’t hear it, then schedule an appointment with a physician.
- If you worked for many years at a job with loud noises, such as highway, music, aviation, or factory work, there’s a good chance your hearing acuity will decrease as you age.
- Schedule regular check-ups at the doctor for vision and hearing.
- If you wear hearing aids, keep tabs on battery life and ensure the devices are working.