One of the disadvantages of living in a rural area, is the lack of mass transit. In my region, there are no light rail systems nor regular bus services between towns. In order to personally conduct business or to visit friends and family out of town, one must use a car or truck.
As I have become older, I understand more fully why many older drivers prefer not to drive at night. It’s not due to poor vision or even reaction times, although for many people this may be the case. The feeling is more one of discomfort about driving in the dark. Worse yet, is the prospect of driving in the rain or snow whether it’s night or day.
I used to enjoy night time driving. The traffic is usually less dense, the pace is less frantic, and it can often be just very pleasurable. Driving used to be more impulsive, now I need to make more allowances and take more precautions before heading out on the highway.
I have not committed any legal driving violations for several decades. I have never been involved in a collision nor other type of driving accident. I want this status to continue. Being a mindful driver is the best way to avoid being a danger to others and oneself. This is especially true when one is single and lives alone, like me.
If you’re like me or are a friend or family member of an older driver you may have concerns about safe vehicle control measures. There are some important factors to seriously consider.
Drive during daytime and in favorable weather conditions.
Use the safest routes and well-planned streets.
Plan your trip before you get into your vehicle.
Avoid distractions such as talking on the phone, texting, and listening to the stereo system at high volume.
Allow a greater following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
In the long term, have your physician or pharmacist review all of your medications, over-the-counter and prescription. Have your vision checked each year. Engage in regular exercise in order to maintain flexibility and strength. Consider possible driving alternatives such as riding with someone else, taking a taxi, or using public transit.
It’s smart to conduct regular self-evaluations. Honestly note your quality of sleep and nutrition. What about the medication schedule and types of meds taken? Be honest about reaction time and physical requirements necessary to safely perform in traffic and emergency situations. A good tool for self evaluation can be found at http://seniordriving.aaa.com then click on “Interactive Driving Evaluation”.
Family members who are concerned about an older loved one who still drives may consider a professional comprehensive driving evaluation. At the same website as above, click on “Professional Assessment” to obtain further information.
Many older drivers are wise enough to know when to hang up the keys for good. Other older drivers are more stubborn and want to drive when they are “at-risk” individuals. Families, friends, and caregivers may have to face the dilemma of what to do about an older driver with impaired abilities. It’s important to think about the safety of pedestrians and other drivers plus the safety of the particular individual.
Now is the time to think about older drivers, whether you are an older driver or if you care about an older driver.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this annonymous pithy quote: “Respect the old, when you are young. Help the weak, when you are strong. Forgive the fault, when you are right. Because, one day in life you’ll be old, weak, and wrong.”