Did you know that older drivers (defined as people 65 and older) represent a significant and increasing proportion of American drivers? *According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that by 2020, there will be more than 40 million licensed drivers 65 and older.
Baby boomers are more computer literate, are healthier, and have been driving longer. These attributes may make them more open to receiving and acting on accurate information about changes to their driving habits.
The fact is that we all age differently. However, there are certain physical factors that deteriorate as we age and affect our proficiency behind the wheel.
It’s particularly important for seniors to be mindful of changes in their body (including those that are from medication side-effects) that can make driving dangerous.
These changes can include:
- Decreased vision
- Decreased reaction time or coordination
- Decreased range of motion
Helpful tips for older drivers:
- Have regular eye and medical exams to maintain your driving abilities.
- Limit nighttime driving.
- Avoid stressful driving situations such as rush hour travel, driving at night or driving in bad weather.
- Avoid taking medications before driving. Many medications, prescription and over-the-counter, cause drowsiness and can affect your ability to drive safely.
- Maintain a safe speed and look ahead.
- Always keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.
- When driving long distances, especially in winter, call ahead for weather and road condition updates.
The key is self-awareness. With smart self-management, you can retain the personal mobility that comes with driving, while limiting the risks to yourself and others.
Most insurance companies provide premium discounts for the completion of a drivers’ education course for people age 55 and above. Classroom or online completion is acceptable to receive the discount. For a list of AARP Adult Defense Driving Courses offered in your area, you can visit their website (www.aarp.org) or call AARP for other course options 1-877-846-3299.
*From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Older Driver Program Five-Year Strategic Plan brochure
Author: Roxanne Santarlas, CISR, Commercial Account Manager