Tips to staying safe on the road well into your senior years

Jan 9, 2012, 8:28 a.m.

Just because you hit a certain age doesn't mean that you have to turn in your driver's license. But a big part of retaining the privileges of being a driver has to do with your commitment to staying as safe behind the wheel as possible, understanding that the older you get the slower your reflexes become. Here are some driving tips for senior drivers who want to stay sharp, focused, and mobile.

Maintain a high level of physical activity. It's no secret that staying active has a beneficial impact on your physical health, but did you know that it can also help keep your mind much sharper? Adopting a sedentary lifestyle isn't exactly conducive to staying fit as a fiddle, and it's probably one of the worst things you could do to negatively influence your sharpness behind the wheel.

Choose your driving times wisely. Avoid driving in the dark and during rush hour traffic, and make alternate plans for getting around if inclement weather has put the kibosh on your travel plans. One of the most useful driving tips for drivers of all ages is to stay off the road during times of inclement weather, and this is something that shouldn't be lost on senior drivers who may be at elevated risk of having their driving performance hindered by rain, sleet, snow, heavy wind, or anything else.

Get yourself tested regularly to ensure your vision and your hearing are still sharp. Both senses are critically important to staying safe on the road, and senior drivers are more often impacted in these areas than are younger drivers. If you wear glasses, be sure to check the prescription at least once per year to make sure that it's still working for you -- and if you've never worn glasses before but are experiencing slightly impaired vision as you grow older, look into prescription lenses to help make you a safer driver.

Talk to your doctor. More often than not, we are the worst people in the world to determine whether or not our reflexes are up to the task of operating a car. But remember that there's a lot more to driving than simply turning the wheel and hitting the gas and brake. More often than not, it's watching out for the mistakes of other drivers that's just as important to staying safe on the road. Your doctor should be able to give you an honest opinion on whether or not your reflexes are up to the task of driving. Whatever his or her recommendation, one of the best driving tips we can offer in that regard is to adhere to them.

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